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Tennis: Qualifier Van de Zandschulp tames Argentine battler to reach quarters

NEW YORK: Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp continued his storybook march at the U.S. Open on Sunday by outlasting Argentine battler Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-1 to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

After rolling through the opening two sets, the 25-year-old Dutchman had looked poised for smooth passage into the last eight but in the end needed five sets, five match points and four hours and 20 minutes to tame the 11th seed.

Van de Zandschulp, 117 in the world rankings, becomes just the third qualifier to reach the U.S. Open men's quarter-finals but could soon have company with German qualifiers Peter Gojowczyk and Oscar Otte looking to join him.

"I think what I have done for me, it's amazing that I beat number 11 here, especially in a match like this," said Van de Zandschulp, who next faces second seed Daniil Medvedev. "For me, it was the first time in the big stadium.

"The crowd was amazing here.

"The next match is maybe going to be on Arthur Ashe, I think. It's going to be even more people there, so, yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

After rallying from a set down in all six previous matches (three main draw, three qualifying), for the first time the Van de Zandschulp did not need to dig himself out of an early hole and looked ready to make quick work of the Argentine going up two-sets-to-love.

But Schwartzman, who had not dropped a set getting into the fourth round, would not go so easily. He came off the ropes in the third set to get a key break at 6-5 and then held serve to extend the contest.

Van de Zandschulp would suffer an even bigger wobble in the fourth when Schwartzman was serving to stay in the match. The Dutchman could not convert two break chances that would have clinched victory.

Having weathered the storm, Schwartzman again seized his chance to break Van de Zandschulp and held serve to trigger a roar from a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium.

With the match slipping away, Van de Zandschulp reset for the fifth and began to hit the mark with a lethal forehand that had been such a big weapon in the early going but lost its punch in the third and fourth sets.

Schwartzman, as tenacious a competitor as there is on the men's tour, suddenly lost his bite as Van de Zandschulp claimed the early break and then a second to jump ahead 5-1.

But closing out the contest would not come easy, with Van de Zandschulp finally finishing the job on his fifth match point when Schwartzman put his return into the net.

"It was weird, the fifth," said Schwartzman. "I was trying to put the ball, every ball, one more time on court because I was thinking, Okay, he came from the quallies, three rounds already.

"But he played a good match. I think today he deserved to win."

Source: Reuters

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