American Tennis Hero Sam Querrey

By Jane Voigt

September 5, 2017 — Americans should have a parade for Sam Querrey. The California native has ended three of the longest droughts in Grand Slam performances by American men and could up it to five, depending on how things turn out tonight.  

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Sam Querrey at Citi Open, Washington D.C. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com.

But no matter what happens when he plays Kevin Anderson in their quarterfinal, Querrey has already provisionally become the top American in the ATP rankings at number 15. He has never been the top-ranked American.

Querrey has always been a good performer ever since he turned pro 11 years back, which is the last year American Andy Roddick advanced to the semifinals at the U.S. Open. Querrey has been there for his Davis Cup duties, too. And he’s been assaulted by horrible losses while on that international stage. Those losses were way worse than during any Grand Slam given that its country versus country competition; and, when you lose you let down the whole team and, yes, country.  

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Sam Querrey losing to Marin Cilic in Washington at Citi Open two years ago. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com. 

Querrey, though, is resilient. He has an easy way about him and speaks frankly to the press. Perhaps his tone and posture came from his California upbringing. Something has had him persevere without losing enthusiasm for the 24/7 job pro tennis has become. He admits his rise in tennis came fast, but results weren’t prolific. He has 10 titles, none above an ATP 250 level. Results at majors haven’t been outstanding. 

His first crack at a second-week run at a major didn’t materialize until 2010 at Wimbledon. Seems fitting, then, that his first quarterfinal berth came at Wimbledon last year … when he upset Novak Djokovic, the defending champion. This year — his 42nd Grand Slam appearance — Sam went one step farther: the semifinals of Wimbledon. He did it by beating the top seed and 2-time Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray. Querrey lost to Marin Cilic in the semifinal, though, advancing the Croatian to his first-ever Wimbledon final where he lost to Roger Federer.

Two days ago, though, Querrey threaded the needle of his career in an eye-popping display of California hard-court tennis against Mischa Zverev, a talented serve-and-volley lefty. Querrey had never played on Arthur Ashe Stadium. As Tennis.com tweeted so perfectly, “Sam Querrey does his best Roger Federer impression destroying Mischa Zerev, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Maybe his best ever.” The match was clocked at 77 minutes. 

“I didn’t have a good feeling until I hit a couple balls in the warmup,” Querrey said, according to USOpen.org. “A little nervous, first night out there. Mischa is someone who can make you feel uncomfortable. [I] had a good service game right off the bat. I think I broke first game of his serve. That just loosened me up right away. Felt great from there going forward.”

Feeling great and returning well helped Querrey sharpen his already lethal serve. 

“Yeah, that was the best I’ve served all summer,” he said. He also struck 55 winners and only 8 unforced errors.

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Stat chart compile by and posted by @ATPTourMedia on Twitter.

This summer, California Sam has split wins with tonight’s opponent, Kevin Anderson. They’ve met twice. But Querrey leads in their head-to-head, 8-6. Tonight they’re scheduled on Ashe. Perhaps Querrey is over his jitters about the occasion, but he’s not losing sight of the job in front of him. Neither man has advanced to a U.S. Open semifinal. 

“Not yet,” Querrey said, when asked if he felt any less intimidated. “It’s still kind of new. It’s still really exciting. It’s a fun stage to be on. Experience sometimes I feel like is overrated. I don’t think it will have any say on how I play Tuesday. I hope I play out there again on Tuesday. If I don’t, it’s fine.”

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013