Griekspoor Relishing Top Seed Status: 'It's A Bit Surreal'
And the Dutchman is fully aware of it.
“Yeah, I know,” Griekspoor said ahead of his opener on Saturday against Japanese qualifier Sho Shimabukuro on the indoor hard courts of the National Tennis Center. “It’s something special. If you look at the draw, you see some big names and you see your name on the first line.
“It’s something you worked for all your life. It’s a bit surreal at this point and maybe a little extra pressure here. I think it’s a good sign to see your name at the top of the list.”
The 27-year-old entered Astana at a career-best No. 24 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with second-seed Sebastian Baez at a career high, too, of No. 27. Both Baez and Griekspoor have bagged multiple titles in 2023. Griekspoor will want to avoid the Astana fate of the Argentine, however, who fell to a qualifier Jurij Rodionov on Friday.
Griekspoor gets recognised a little more now, which he light-heartedly said doesn’t hurt when trying to land football or concert tickets.
Winning the first tournament he played of the new season — at the hard-court Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune — did wonders for his confidence. So did what happened in the next few tournaments.
Griekspoor made the third round at a major for the first time at the Australian Open before beating Alexander Zverev on the way to the semi-finals of February’s ABN AMRO Open at home in Rotterdam. It took Jannik Sinner to stop him in two tight sets, 7-5, 7-6.
“The first six weeks of the year were probably a turning point for my mental side,” said Griekspoor, who acknowledged he is ‘maybe working a bit harder’ than before. “For me the most important thing was the belief to have this ranking, the belief to win tournaments. That’s something that this year was really there and helped me a lot.”
If he wasn’t far off from triumphing indoors in Rotterdam, Griekspoor did get his hands on a trophy at home by claiming June’s Libema Open on grass in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Given he won six of his unprecedented eight ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2021 on clay, he is an all-rounder. Which surface does he enjoy the most? Griekspoor chuckled when asked.
“I always said it was clay until I started winning ATP [tournaments] on hard courts and grass,” he said. “I enjoy playing on all surfaces and I think that’s a good thing.”
Griekspoor is ready to make a charge the rest of this season after taking extra rest post-Wimbledon and the US Open. The opportunity to gain Pepperstone ATP Ranking points certainly exists since he last year lost five straight matches from the end of September to the end of October.
“Schedule wise, I did a lot better this year,” he said. “As I’m feeling now, I’m feeling great. Now it’s an advantage that I didn’t win anything last year. Back then it was different.”
Alexander Bublik, Kazakhstan’s highest-ranked men’s player at No. 35, defeated Griekspoor last year in the first round in Astana, but it didn’t stop the Dutchman from returning.
“It’s a really nice tournament, which made me come back,” said Griekspoor.