MUNICH—When making the jump from the grind of weekly Challengers to battling regularly on the ATP tour, learning how to manage a playing schedule is a core class every newcomer must take. With greater competition, heightened expectations and increased wear and tear—to the body and mind—there isn’t a simple pass-fail option in this course.

For Botic van de Zandschulp, mastering the art of knowing when to play and pull back is a chief priority that supersedes rankings and tournament targets during the 2022 season.

“It's the first full year on the ATP tour. It’s a little bit different from the Challenger tour. For example, choosing the right tournaments, making tough decisions if you can play almost every week,” he told press at the BMW Open Friday.

“Making a good schedule, trying to play 25, 26 tournaments throughout the year. And staying physically fit. That’s my main goal.”

After losing in Monte Carlo, the 26-year-old—who at this time last year was ranked No. 154 as he balanced entering Challengers with bids to qualify at tour-level tournaments—took a week off from the competition arena to give his lower back a chance to rest. Listening has paid off in a rewarding way.

Now ranked a career-high No. 40 and feeling 100 percent in Munich, van de Zandschulp impressed Friday afternoon when he stormed past world No. 7 Casper Ruud, 7-5, 6-1, to reach his first semifinal of the year. After missing three break points in the opening set, the Dutchman broke through in the 11th game to gain control of the clash.

“I served pretty well, played aggressive in my own games. That put some pressure on him, I think,” he said.


Van de Zandschulp is now 3-3 in his career vs. the Top 10 (beyond his two Ruud victories, his other success came against Felix Auger-Aliassime at 2022 Indian Wells)

Van de Zandschulp is now 3-3 in his career vs. the Top 10 (beyond his two Ruud victories, his other success came against Felix Auger-Aliassime at 2022 Indian Wells)

His serve was spot on throughout the contest, but the eighth seed also turned up the heat by upping the ante on return once he had a set in pocket. Van de Zandschulp’s willingness to attack Ruud’s more dominant side, the forehand, and executing redirects up the line to that wing resulted in the Norwegian winning just one of his four service games in a lopsided set two.

Last October, Van de Zandschulp contested his maiden tour semifinal after ousting sixth-ranked home favorite Andrey Rublev in St. Petersburg. With his victory today, the Wageningen native continues to show his ability to string match wins together following a breakout US Open quarterfinal run that included taking out Ruud in the second round, as he’s tacked on five last eight appearances since his Flushing Meadows effort.

“When you make the quarters, people and myself are going to ask is a one-time thing or can I keep up a good level? I think I did it pretty well last year after the US Open,” he assessed. “I won a lot of matches. And started pretty good this year.

“It was more a boost than something I was never going to achieve.”

In Saturday’s final four, Van de Zandschulp bids for his first ATP final against one of the season’s early contenders for most improved player of the year in Miomir Kecmanovic. The 22-year-old Serbian is seeded one place ahead at No. 7 and has delivered on notable consistency in his own big way by winning 22 of 30 matches thus far in 2022.

“He’s showing a great level. Next matchup is going to be tough,” said Van de Zandschulp. “I don’t consider myself the title candidate here. I think we all have a good chance to win the tournament.”

Kecmanovic won their initial meeting last month at Indian Wells, 7-6 (3), 7-5. He took down reigning champion Nikoloz Basilashvili, 7-6 (5), 6-2, to book the first semifinal spot at the ATP 250 event. Holger Rune and Oscar Otte will battle in the other final-four showdown.