Tennis Prose



van Rijthoven Says Fans “Underestimate” Challenger Tour Level

Tim van Rijthoven won his first ATP main tour matches earlier this year at s-Hertogenbosch where he shockingly won the title vs world no. 1 Daniil Medvedev 64 61.

The 25 year old currently ranked 116 described the slight differences of the ATP World Tour and Challenger tour levels to veteran tennis reporter Harry Cicma: “I think people underestimate the Challenger Tour a little bit. The level there is so very high. The players are very good. Everyone is very hungry. They’re all fighting to get into the ATP events. The level is almost always there. It’s just some mental things that don’t really click. For me it clicked.”

Did it ever, as van Rithjoven, ranked outside the top 200 in June, suddenly raised his level and won s-Hertogenbosch with a dominant performance vs Medvedev: “Against Daniil I played aggressive tennis and served very well. And was even the better player in the rallies, which I didn’t expect.”

Right after that, van Rijthoven won three rounds at Wimbledon, including an upset of Reilly Opelka, and then tested eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the round of 16, 26 64 16 26.

van Rijthoven had one more burst of tennis magic at the US Open first round where he was down two sets to China’s Zhizhen Zhang and overcome seven match points to eventually prevail 36 67 76 61 64. Then in the second round vs. eventual finalist Casper Ruud, van Rijthoven threatened the no. 7 seed 76 46 46 46.

After the US Open, the Dutch powerhouse has played two more events and lost first rounds at Sofia to Rune 67 67 and then at Moulleron le Captif Challenger 67 46 to Jiri Lehecka. With an ATP match record of 9-4 in 2022, Tim’s highest ranking was 101 in July.

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  • MATT SEGEL · October 11, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I think the problem is that they are called challenger events and not ATP 125 events. Also they don’t count for records, career achievements, so they really are the minor league of tennis.

    AAA baseball is very competitive, but not the Big Leagues. I totally respect how great challenger level players are and how difficult that tour is.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 11, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    Matt, that’s a great idea, to call Challengers, ATP 125 tournaments. The “Challenger” term makes no sense really and it diminishes the ATP World Tour. Tim would know better than anyone how good the quality and level is in those ATP 125s. Look at Jack Sock’s record this year in ATP 125s (Challengers)…Sock is 7-11 in ATP main tour matches this year and 21-8 in ATP 125s. Sock has won one 125 title in Savannah. Gasquet is 21-8 in ATP tour matches this year (no titles) and 8-6 in 125s (no titles).

  • catherine · October 12, 2022 at 1:51 am

    Swerving off topic but……

    Emma doesn’t care what anyone thinks – out goes Tursunov (possibly world politics related) but, good move, in comes Andy Murray’s fitness coach.

    As for main coach – I think Fisette might be free at the moment….

    Leylah Fernandez, the other 2021 USO finalist, has been struggling a bit too, with injury and losses. Hope that’s not going to turn into an albatross.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2022 at 7:58 am

    Catherine, it’s a bonehead move if Emma fired Tursunov, who has a proven track record as an excellent coach. If he can’t fix her maybe nobody can. Leylah Fernandez has been a big disappointment this year, she did not progress or do anything memorable and the concerning part is she trained like there was no tomorrow, perhaps even overtrained with that fitness guru Duglas Cordero, which probably caused the injury. I saw her training videos and said this is too much hardcore overtraining, the body can’t take this. Sure enough…

  • catherine · October 12, 2022 at 10:16 am

    I’m not sure Emma actually fired Tursunove – it was still on a trial basis and there are problems with his Russian nationality and visas. Maybe too many problems. Tursunov is a very good coach but he hasn’t stayed that long with anyone as far as I could see, except Sabalenka.

    On the physical side I think it’s clear that Emma isn’t at the fitness level which will allow her to play a whole season without injury. That may have been an issue in Tursunov’s departure. So Jez (if that’s his name) would seem a good choice. He certainly helped Murray.

    I’d be suspicious of fitness ‘gurus’. I bet they cost a lot.
    And Leylah got an ankle injury training.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2022 at 10:41 am

    The must unstable job in sports is as a wta coach. There is very little loyalty. Then you have other factors like money, bonuses, resenting the coach getting too much credit, or discrediting the coach as a hitting partner. One former player told me to work as a coach for a wta player you have to be “a slave.” It’s not as glamorous as it looks when the wins stop coming. I think Emma is in top shape, but because she’s not winning there has to be an excuse to protect her ego and image.

  • catherine · October 12, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    Brit media are saying that it was Tursunov who decided to leave and he’ll surface again as coach to another player. I’m interested in who that’ll be.

    At present Emma has a wrist injury which caused her to withdraw from the event in Roumania. She’s certainly not in ‘top shape’. Hopefully she will be in time for the BJK Cup in Glasgow.

    It’s possible Dimitri found the constant stop/start in Emma’s time on court this year unhelpful for his coaching plans. So there was no real progression. Made sense to jump ship.

    I think Emma could follow Iga’s example and high a psych. And yes, Swiatek’s mind coach is still there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    Catherine, Iga’s mind coach has too much influence is what I was told. But the set up is working even if the rumored team dysfunction is truth or fiction. I dont’ think there is any chance Raducanu would ever say, “Yes I’m in perfect tip top shape physically and healthwise, I’m just losing because I lost confidence and my game isn’t working this year like it did at US Open.” Don’t expect to ever hear the real reason why Radursunov didn’t succeed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    Looks like Emma and Mouratoglou won’t be joining forces any time soon…
    Patrick Mouratoglou

    @Simona_Halep takes time to recover, she encouraged me to seek a new collaboration.

    Today, I’m pleased to announce that I’m joining @holgerrune2003’s team.

    I’m really excited to start working with Holger. We’ve had a special bond since the day we met, when he was just 13.

  • catherine · October 12, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Emma retired from around 4 tournaments this year. So yes, it’s clear she was losing confidence but a player would never say that.

    My guess: Tursunov told her why he was leaving and possibly encouraged her towards a good fitness coach. Which is what’s happened.

    Re Patrick Motormouth, I actually couldn’t see anything much he did for Simona, who probably should consider retiring. Now she’s divorced perhaps she might think of coaching kids or opening an academy if she hasn’t already done so.

  • catherine · October 15, 2022 at 6:43 am

    Here’s the latest – interesting to see how this works out:

    Dmitry Tursunov was the one that reportedly ended the partnership with Emma Raducanu and not the other way around and it was seemingly due to Belinda Bencic.

    According to reports, Tursunov was the one who asked for the termination of the relationship and reports said it was due to his desire to coach another player. The coach has been seen practicing with that player this week in Guadalajara ahead of the Premier 1000 event there next week, and it appears to be Belinda Bencic.

    Olympic champion Bencic, who is ranked 15th in the world, is 53 spots ahead of the British number one despite having been one of the competitors the Kent teenager defeated on the way to winning the US Open last year.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 15, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Catherine, the only surprise here is I guess Bencic dismissed her long time coach/boyfriend to go with Tursunov.



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