5 Things To Know About Novak Djokovic’s Next Opponent: Tim Van Rijthoven | ATP Tour

Tim van Rijthoven has enjoyed a dream surge this grass-court season. When he arrived at the Libema Open in ’s-Hertogenbosch earlier this month, he had never won a match at an ATP Tour event. Not only did he claim the title at the ATP 250, but the Dutchman is now into the fourth round at Wimbledon, where he will play top seed Novak Djokovic.

Before this year, van Rijthoven had never played qualifying at a major. Now the wild card will have a chance to stun a 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Before the match, here are five things to know about the 25-year-old.

He Dreamt Of Playing Djokovic
When Djokovic defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Friday, he made van Rijthoven’s dream come true. The Dutchman is eager to play the six-time Wimbledon champion.

“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. “I go into every match thinking I can win the match. Also against Djokovic I’ll go into that match thinking I can win that match.”

Van Ritjhoven will take confidence knowing he is 2-0 against Top 10 opponents. In ’s-Hertogenbosch, the home favourite upset Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev en route to the trophy.

The Dutchman Credits His Rise To His Mentality
Some players raise their level because they improve a particular shot. According to van Rijthoven, it is all about his mental game.

“For me it was in the head, yes. But for different players there is different things to work on. For another player maybe it’s the serve, other players maybe the forehand, maybe the backhand,” van Rijthoven said. “I always felt like it was in my mind, so it was the head for me. In the tennis game, it’s one of the biggest parts I think, one of the most important things to have straight and be positive.”

The Dutchman has spent years battling on the ATP Challenger Tour, where he owns a 47-53 record. He is the sixth player who has lifted an ATP Tour trophy having never triumphed on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Tim Has Overcome Injury Struggles
Van Rijthoven cracked the Top 300 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in 2016, but was unable to move into the Top 250 until September of last year. Part of that is because of injuries he has dealt with.

The Dutchman has suffered three injuries he called “major”. He had wrist surgery and in February 2020 underwent a surgery on a vein in his right arm to deal with thrombosis. Van Rijthoven also needed nine months to recover from golfer’s elbow. 

He Loves Golf & His Dream Job Might Surprise You
Although van Rijthoven suffered from golfer’s elbow from playing tennis, he enjoys playing golf. Colleague Casper Ruud has an Instagram page dedicated to golf, which the Dutchman follows.

“I love golf. I am addicted to golf. I am following Casper’s Instagram golf page,” van Rijthoven said after winning his maiden title in ’s-Hertogenbosch. “I was thinking about playing some holes tonight!”

His dream job might surprise you. Van Rijthoven would like to own a restaurant.

“I would probably choose a noodle restaurant,” van Rijthoven said. “I love noodles.”

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Tim Is Part Of A New Wave Of Dutch Stars
This time last year, there were no Dutch players inside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. There are now two inside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings — Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor — and van Rijthoven is right behind at World No. 104. Van de Zandschulp, who made last year’s US Open quarter-finals, will play Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.

“I think the Dutch people are very positive about what’s happening right now. They are just very happy that they can look after another player besides Griekspoor and van de Zandschulp, [whom] they also love to watch, because I also love to watch them,” van Rijthoven said. “Now they have three players to watch out for, which I think they’re very grateful for.”