Just like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal will need to make it past a fast improving Dutchman to book his spot in the quarter-finals. Now at No. 25, Botic van de Zandschulp has surged up the rankings in the past year having played qualifiers at Wimbledon last year. They face each other for the second slam running after Nadal won easily in straights at the French Open.
Despite looking like his toughest match of the tournament to date, Nadal made light work of Lorenzo Sonego in the third round. He broke six times in the 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory against the Italian, not even getting distracted by the third set break for closing the roof. “I made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days: the determination, the way that I managed to play more aggressive, going to the net plenty of times,” Nadal said.
Much of the attention has been on Tim van Rijthoven this fortnight but van de Zandschulp has been very impressive both at this tournament and in 2022 in general. He made the semi final in Queens and has built on that with his run here, most recently beating two-time semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in four sets.
The conditions should suit the Dutchman a bit more but he has been found lacking in many of his matchups so far against the very best players, including Nadal. The key will be as always to serve big and take the ball early, hoping Nadal struggles early on. The route to the final still looks dangerous on paper for Nadal with Nick Kyrgios and Taylor Fritz both possible opponents.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in four sets
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About Aaron Higgs
Experienced tennis writer with a focus on event previews and results.