How do you turn your best week ever into an established career? Tim van Rijthoven seeks to do just that at the Wimbledon Championships as he suddenly stands on the precipice of a Top 100 debut.

Starting the year ranked No. 261, the Dutchman was an unknown commodity in elite tennis circles until about three weeks ago when he scored wins over Taylor Fritz, Félix Auger-Aliassime, and Daniil Medvedev to win his first ATP title—in only his second main-draw appearance.

For Medvedev, it was like seeing a ghost from Christmas past.


“I remember him in juniors,” he said before enduring a 6-4, 6-1 defeat in the Libema Open finals. “He was always good on grass. I don't remember if we were friends, [but] he saw me here and was, like, 'Long time no see!' so we probably haven't seen each other since 18.”

Van Rijthoven was last at the All England Club in 2014, when he ousted a young Andrey Rublev en route to the quarterfinals in boy’s singles. A lifetime and multiple injuries later, the 25-year-old looks ready to make good on that potential with clean, compact swings and aggressive athleticism.

Get to know the last-minute addition to the Wimbledon field as he attempts to win a seventh straight match against No. 15 seed Reilly Opelka:

The Basics

A contemporary of Medvedev, Rublev, and Fritz, Van Rijthoven was a Top 20 junior who, at 6’2”, certainly looked the part of an ATP mainstay.

His all-court game, however, clearly needed time to develop—nor was he helped by injuries that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season and most of 2020.

A lot was expected of me in the past. I couldn’t do that then. I want to make it happen for myself now. I’ve matured in that regard. I enjoy the job more these days. Tim van Rijthoven

“In tennis years I feel younger than 24, because I was very unlucky with injuries in the past,” he told Eurosport in Rotterdam, where he lost in qualifying.

While physical issues were a key culprit in stunting his progress, pressure also appeared to play its part.

“A lot was expected of me in the past,” he explained earlier this month. “I couldn’t do that then. I want to make it happen for myself now. I’ve matured in that regard. I enjoy the job more these days.”

A pair of runner-up finishes at ATP Challenger tournaments helped him crack the Top 200, and he came within one match of qualifying for the Roland Garros main draw, bowing out to Norbert Gombos.

Working with a new coach, countryman and former ATP player Igor Sijsling, he accepted a wild card into his home tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where everything changed.


The Latest

There are players who stumble into big results; van Rijthoven made it happen the hard way. After dispatching Matthew Ebden in a pair of tiebreakers, he stunned reigning BNP Paribas Open champion Fritz from a set down, and avoided a letdown against Hugo Gaston in the quarterfinals. He next out-gutted Auger-Aliassime in a final-set tiebreaker to book the overdue meeting with Medvedev.

Dominating the soon-to-be world No. 1, Van Rijthoven won seven straight games to race ahead 5-0 in the second set before ultimately securing the title with one last big serve. Throughout the week, he struck a whopping 57 aces.

“If he plays like today, he is Top 10 soon,” Medvedev said in defeat. “He’s going to have his opportunities to become a great tennis player, but tennis life is not easy, so let’s see how he handles it.”


So far, he’s handling it pretty well: the victory in ‘s-Hertogenbosch secured him a late Wimbledon wild card, which he’s already used to great effect. Playing his first major main-draw match, he dismissed Federico Delbonis in straight sets to win a sixth straight match.

Standing between the rising Dutch star and a trip to the third round is fellow big server, Reilly Opelka, who snapped a four-match losing streak at Wimbledon to defeat Carlos Taberner.

Why It Matters

To Medvedev’s point, one only gets so many opportunities to become a top player, and for one who has had precious few thus far in his career, Van Rijthoven has the additional misfortune of not being able to play for ranking points at SW19.

Projected to nonetheless make his Top 100 debut at the end of the fortnight, he instead finds himself at the crest of a wave, one on which he can absorb as much experience as he can before the tour turns back to hard courts.

With a powerful serve and pristine technique—anchored by a flashy one-handed backhand—there’s no reason why he can’t mirror the rise of fellow Dutch star Botic van de Zandschulp, who rocketed into the Top 100 last season, and meet the expectations that once proved too weighty.