Botic Shocks Schwartzman In US Open Five-Set Epic
Qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp had never set foot on American soil before this year’s US Open. But the Dutchman is quickly becoming much more familiar with the country and New York City after extending his breakthrough run at Flushing Meadows Sunday, when he battled past 11th seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 to reach his first major quarter-final.
The 25-year-old, who earned a career-best win over World No. 11 Casper Ruud in the second round, produced big-hitting tennis and recovered from squandering two match points in the fourth set to secure another upset after four hours and 19 minutes.
“I played so many matches here, some of them I was on the brink of defeat, and for the first time in the tournament I have won the first set,” van de Zandschulp said in his on-court interview. “The first two I almost ended up losing the match, but I am glad I won in the end.”
The World No. 117 had never been beyond the second round at a major before his run in New York, and he will now face second seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals after firing 55 winners past Schwartzman. It is the first tour-level event the Dutchman has played since he reached the second round at Wimbledon in July. Since then he had played exclusively at the ATP Challenger level, enjoying runs to one final and three semi-finals.
By capturing the opening set against Schwartzman, van de Zandschulp, who is projected to crack the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings after this event, snapped a six-match streak in which he had lost the first set.
“The atmosphere was great,” van de Zandschulp added. “I couldn’t let you guys down. The first for me in America and it has been great. I think before the tournament nobody expected me to reach the quarter-finals here and I hope they are proud in the Netherlands.”
In a dominant performance, the Dutchman found his rhythm from the start against Schwartzman, out-powering the diminutive Argentine with his heavy groundstrokes as he pinned the 29-year-old behind the baseline.
Van de Zandschulp hammered 12 winners in the first set as he moved ahead and then showcased his defensive skills in the second set, hammering a ball high into the sky on the stretch at 4-5, 30/30 to conjure up a set point when Schwartzman fired his tricky smash long.
After converting that set point with a forehand winner, the 25-year-old continued to close the net effectively in the third set, winning 79 per cent (38/48) of net points in the match. However, he failed to close out from a break ahead as Schwartzman rallied to gain a foothold in the match.
Van de Zandschulp regained his focus in the fourth set as he continued to hit with consistent depth to move the 29-year-old around, but he was unable to convert two match points at 5-4, 40-15 as Schwartzman showed his fighting abilities to hold before breaking to level. After racing into a 5-1 lead in the decider, van de Zandschulp did hold his nerve to finally secure victory on his fifth match point and improve to 3-1 in five-set matches.
If qualifiers Peter Gojowczyk and Oscar Otte can overcome #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini respectively, and also reach the quarter-finals, it will be the first time three qualifiers have advanced to the last eight at the US Open since the event started tracking qualifiers in 1982.
Schwartzman did not drop a set en route to the fourth round, dispatching Ricardas Berankis, Kevin Anderson and Slovakian qualifier Alex Molcan. The Argentine was aiming to reach the quarter-finals in New York for a third time, having enjoyed runs to the last eight in 2017 and 2019.