Botic van de Zandschulp’s breakout season is becoming more impressive by the day.
The Dutch qualifier upset top seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final at the St. Petersburg Open. Van de Zandschulp’s win means that there will not be a third consecutive Russian winner at the event.
“First time in the semis. It feels amazing,” van de Zandschulp said in his on-court interview. “I played a great match, played a smart match, [and I am] so happy to be through.”
The No. 69 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings has not lost a set in the main draw in St. Petersburg and he will play 2011 champion Marin Cilic for a place in the championship match.
“He made the final last week in Moscow,” van de Zandschulp said of Cilic. “He’s playing great at the moment, and I think it’s going to be an interesting match.”
Van de Zandschulp announced himself on a global stage at the US Open, where as a qualifier he advanced to the quarter-finals and won a set against eventual champion Daniil Medvedev. The Dutchman has maintained his momentum from that run and looked comfortable in his one-hour, 33-minute victory against Rublev.
The top seed was frustrated throughout, as he struggled to find a middle ground between playing too aggressively and not aggressively enough. His opponent took full advantage, rallying from a break down in the second set to claim his first Top 10 win (1-2).
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One day after clawing past Karen Khachanov, former World No. 3 Cilic battled past third seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.
“Today was a difficult match mentally, very, very different from yesterday,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “During the match I was a lot up and down and I felt that I didn’t have great rhythm. But I felt that continuously I was making chances and I just had to stay mentally in the match.”
Even in the last game, Bautista Agut put pressure on his opponent. But Cilic hit four consecutive big serves to get out of trouble and advance after two hours and 34 minutes.
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