It was a bittersweet day for Russian tennis ace Daniil Medvedev as the 26-year-old lost the Libema Open — an ATP 250 tournament — final here to Dutch wildcard Tim Van Rijthoven, but reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings.
Van Rijthoven, who at No. 205 is the lowest-ranked tour-level titlist of the season, completed a dream week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Sunday, racing to a 6-4, 6-1 win over Medvedev to clinch a maiden ATP Tour title.
The 25-year-old Dutch was playing in a maiden title match on just his second appearance in a tour-level main draw. However, he showed no sign of nerves in front of a home crowd on his way to a 65-minute win over Medvedev.
“This is new for me, it’s going to take some time getting used to,” van Rijthoven, who had not won a tour-level match prior to this week, was quoted as saying by atptour.com. “What a dream this week. I would like to thank my team for staying humble this week, doing the normal things, not making this thing any bigger than it was.
“I would like to thank all of you,” added Van Rijthoven when addressing his home crowd. “Your support was incredible this week.”
On way to the final here, van Rijthoven beat Matthew Ebden, Taylor Fritz, Hugo Gaston and Felix Auger-Aliassime to become the first Dutchman to win the ATP 250 event since Sjeng Schalken in 2003.
Van Rijthoven enjoyed a bright start to his maiden tour-level meeting with Medvedev, breaking the ace player in the second game to move ahead early. He was pegged back immediately by the top seed, however who restored parity at 2-2 with a break of his own.
Van Rijthoven’s win was powered by his ability to put Medvedev’s serve under pressure.
“Amazing week. (You) destroyed the No. 2 in the world in straight sets in the final, so I think it must be a good feeling!” said Medvedev to van Rijthoven. “An amazing match. Keep it going. I remember you from juniors, you have the talent so now you need to make more matches like this and more tournaments like this! Congrats to you and your team.”
The defeat means Medvedev remains without a trophy in 2022, but the 26-year-old will nonetheless be heartened by his run in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which culminated in his first tour-level final match appearance since the Australian Open in January.
“I’d like to show huge respect to Daniil,” said van Rijthoven of the soon-to-be world No.1. “You’re a great player, I’ve watched you on TV many times, and now to play you myself, that was already a dream. Playing against you was amazing and it was an honour to share the court with you, and you are for sure going to win many more titles. I’ll see you hopefully in the future many more times on the court.”
Van Rijthoven’s run in ‘s-Hertogenbosch is set to propel the Dutchman up 99 places to a career-high No. 106 in Monday’s update of the ATP Rankings.
(Inputs from IANS)