“It’s been a long one. I’ve had my ups and downs, injuries here and there. Also struggled mentally,” said van Rijthoven, whose health issues included wrist surgery, a procedure on a vein in his right arm because of thrombosis and nine months healing from “golfer’s elbow” that he noted with a smile he incurred from playing tennis.
It is, to be sure, the stuff of movies: An oft-injured guy ranked outside the top 100, making his Grand Slam debut thanks to a wild card, knocks out two seeded players on his way to a fourth-round matchup at Wimbledon against none other than No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the three-time defending champion, AP reports.
We can guess what Hollywood might do with that script. Tim van Rijthoven, a 25-year-old Dutchman, earned the chance to see what will happen in real life across the net from Djokovic after both men won in straight sets Friday at the All England Club.
“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play him, basically. So to be able to have that chance, and to maybe even play on Centre Court or Court 1, is beautiful and magical,” van Rijthoven said after beating No. 22 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on Court 12, with its capacity of 1,736, to become the first wild-card entry since 2015 to get to the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
“I go into every match thinking I can win the match,” said van Rijthoven, whose baseline-based style eliminated No. 15 Reilly Opelka earlier in the week. “Also, against Djokovic, I’ll go into that match thinking I can win that match.”
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