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Qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp ousts No. 11 Diego Schwartzman in five sets at US Open

Qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp defeated No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman during the fourth round of the US Open.John Minchillo/Associated Press

NEW YORK — The fact that Botic van de Zandschulp was playing in Louis Armstrong Stadium for the first time for his 4-hour, 20-minute, will-he-or-won’t-he-blow-it victory was an incredible enough achievement for the Dutch qualifier.

Throw in this: Van de Zandschulp had never set foot in the US before he arrived for the US Open.

Now, van de Zandschulp has another first of epic proportions. He’s in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows — just the third male qualifier to get that far in the Open era.

“I think before the tournament, no one expected me to reach the quarterfinals here,” he said.


You think?

Van de Zandschulp continued his out-of-nowhere run, beating No. 11 Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1, on Sunday.

Botic Van de Zandschulp celebates after winning a point against Diego Schwartzman during Sunday's fourth-round action.John Minchillo/Associated Press

The US Open had already been filled with upstarts and upsets. Defending champion Naomi Osaka and No. 1 women’s seed Ash Barty are done. So are men’s No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 5 Andrey Rublev.

Van de Zandschulp was part of a trio of US Open qualifiers who reached the fourth round for the first time since the tournament began keeping qualifying records in 1982. He joined Nicolas Escude (1999) and Gilles Muller (2008) as just the third men’s qualifier to reach the quarterfinals since the Open era began in 1968.

Never heard of van de Zandschulp?

Well, there’s good reason: Before the US Open, the ninth-year pro had only five tour-level wins, was never ranked higher than 117 in the world and had never advanced past the second round in a Grand Slam tournament.

Look at him now, his US Open streak an unqualified success for the little-know qualifier.

“His tactic today was working perfectly,” Schwartzman said. “Maybe I had luck in the third and fourth to continue playing the match today because he was playing better than me.”


Van de Zandschulp should enjoy the run while he can. His next match is against No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who cruised into the US Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Daniel Evans on Sunday.

Daniil Medvedev will next face Botic van de Zandschulp after his Sunday win at the US Open.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Medvedev has yet to drop a set on his way to the quarterfinals for the third straight year, and van de Zandschulp would be the third unseeded player he would face at Flushing Meadows. Evans was No. 24.

No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina beat two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3, to advance to the quarterfinals. The Olympic bronze medalist, Svitolina has emerged as a contender at Flushing Meadows. She has not dropped a set in the tournament.

The 25-year-old van de Zandschulp had already knocked out No. 8 seed Casper Ruud in the second round. He also dropped the first set in each of his first three matches before reversing the trend against Schwartzman.

It has been a big season already for qualifiers. Russian Aslan Karatsev was a qualifier when he reached this year’s Australian Open semifinals.

The signs, though, were apparent that van de Zandschulp could surprise in Slams. He went 11-1 in Grand Slam qualifying this year. He made the main draw at Wimbledon as a lucky loser — getting into the bracket when someone else withdrew — and reached the second round.

The was an upset in the women’s draw as well. Raising her right fist overhead to celebrate winner after winner, 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez demonstrated that her upset of defending champion Naomi Osaka at the US Open was certainly no fluke by beating another past title winner.


Leylah Fernandez beat Angelique Kerber in three sets Sunday in New York.John Minchillo/Associated Press

With grit and guile, and a veteran’s poise in the face of a big deficit against a much more accomplished opponent, the unseeded Fernandez grabbed the last five games to defeat 2016 champion Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in the fourth round Sunday in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Just like against Osaka in Arthur Ashe Stadium two nights earlier, Fernandez dropped the opening set. Just like against Osaka, Fernandez trailed in the second set, too — this time, Kerber led by a break at 4-2.

But for the second match in a row on a big court, the 73rd-ranked Canadian got the crowd on her side, exulting each time she hit one of her on-the-run, impossible-angle groundstrokes. She’d pump a fist. She’d windmill her arms. And she got to do so repeatedly, ending up with a 45-28 edge in winners.

Fernandez is a lefthander who redirects opponent’s shots swiftly and seemingly with ease, sometimes dropping to a knee near the baseline to get the proper leverage. That’s a very similar style to the one Kerber used to reach No. 1 in the rankings and claim three Grand Slam titles.

Carlos Alcaraz is the youngest male quarterfinalist since 1963.

The 18-year-old from Spain reached the final eight at Flushing Meadows by beating 141st-ranked qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.


Eighteen-year-old Carlos Alcaraz reached the quarterfinals with his win Sunday.FRANK FRANKLIN II/Associated Press

Alcaraz also becomes the youngest men’s quarterfinalist at any Grand Slam tournament since Michael Chang was 18 at the 1990 French Open.

Gojowczyk is 32.

The 55th-ranked Alcaraz had upset No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in his previous match.

No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the quarterfinals for the first time by getting past Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 with the help of 24 aces.

Auger-Aliassime had never reached the final eight at any Grand Slam tournament until Wimbledon in July, a month before he turned 21 on Aug. 8.