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I think maybe I can hurt him on the grass courts: Botic van de Zandschulp sends message to Rafael Nadal ahead of Wimbledon face off

The last time Zandschulp faced Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Roland Garros, he suffered a crushing defeat.

Abhishek Sandikar Author

Published on - 3 July 2022 10:51 pm

Rafael Nadal’s Wimbledon title hunt meets a new challenger in Dutch tennis star Botic van de Zandschulp who seems to be ready to throw the gauntlet against the 22-time Grand Slam winner. After defeating his third-round opponent Richard Gasquet 7-5 2-6 7-6(7) 6-1, Zandschulp feels he can push Nadal, especially on the grass court.  

He said, “The biggest challenge in tennis is to play Rafa at Roland Garros. It was a tough one there, but [I have] more confidence here to really make a shot. Hopefully, it’s going [to be] better than the first time. I was a little bit nervous there during the beginning of the match, so hopefully, I can start better off here.”

“He didn’t play so many matches on grass the last couple of years. You see him struggle a little bit. Of course, he’s winning the first few rounds. But I think maybe I can hurt him on the grass courts here,” Zandschulp added.

The last time Zandschulp faced Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Roland Garros, he suffered a crushing defeat. Rafa took down Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and then went onto win his 12th Roland Garros.

After that defeat, Zandschulp praised Nadal and said, “Rafa’s ball comes back differently; there is no one who plays like him. The feeling is that you have to win each point many times because it’s incredible how he moves. His high return to my backhand troubled me a lot. It’s very frustrating to feel that you play well and do not hurt him.” 

This match also holds special significance as Botic Van De Zandschulp considers Nadal his idol as he revealed in an interview with the ATP. He said, “I was a fan of [Rafael] Nadal when younger, but he hasn’t played many of the same tournaments as me yet,” said Botic van de Zandschulp. “I haven’t met any of my idols from when I was younger. I looked up to [Andre] Agassi, I liked him a lot. [Andy] Roddick I liked a lot, but I am yet to meet them, so hopefully my time will come.”

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