Sam Querrey Stuns World Number One Novak Djokovic

From the signs of things in Novak Djokovic’s rushed press conference, the number-one seed couldn’t wait to answer all their silly questions and bolt. He slumped in the chair. Swiveled left and right and refused to answer questions about why he wasn’t in his best form. He only seemed somewhat calm when talking about his family.

“Thankfully, I have a family and life outside tennis,” he said on ESPN. “I will spend more attention to them. I just need some rest.”

Sam Querrey runs down a forehand, during the 2015 Citi Open held in Washington D.C. Photo credit Leslie Billman

It’s understandable. The loss — his first before a quarterfinal in 27 major appearances — hurt. His pride. His ego. His aspirations to outdo Roger Federer and any other competitor now on the radar. He’d won 30 consecutive matches in majors. 

“It’s disappointing of course. It hurts more than any other tournament.”

The shock, though, came at the hands of American Sam Querrey (No. 28), 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5). Djokovic had dominated their head-to-head record, 8-1. 

“It’s incredible, especially here at Wimbledon,” Querrey told the BBC, immediately following his win. “[I’m] so ecstatic right now. So happy right now.” 

Djokovic saved all five break points in the fourth set, went up 5-4, and was poised to send the match to a fifth. But on Querrey’s sixth break-point chance he converted. It just so happened to come during that game. The score was tied, 5-5. 

“Congratulations to Sam. Part of his game was brutal today,” Djokovic said. “[He] won lots of points on free serves.” 

Yet in that game Djokovic had control. He was serving and Sam broke. 

“Whenever he had the chance he really went for his shots,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic did admit he wasn’t feeling the ball, “[I] wasn’t feeling the ball. That’s it.” But continually refused to expand on his condition when asked. “I just don’t want to talk about it.”

Querrey’s task today … win one more set. Their match had been halted yesterday due to rain. He was up two sets. He looked out of sorts as the third started while Novak looked spry and ran off the first four games. 

“I was ready for that,” Querrey said, when asked what he expected from his opponent today. “You see he got the first four games. You know he’s mentally tough.”

Querrey’s consistent defense demonstrated how well he played and, from one perspective, how he won. He saved six break points in the first two games of the fourth set. At 2-games all, Novak was 0-8 on break point conversions as Sam continued to thwart the champion by firing ace after ace. For the match, Querrey hit 31. His aggression was apparent when looking at winners/unforced errors: 56/52. Djokovic’s stat was 34/31. 

“I think today I played the break points really well,” Querrey said. “[I] got a couple loose errors in the tiebreak and that was it.”  

The match was interrupted three times by rain. After Querrey leveled things at 5-5, he held serve to 6-5. That meant Djokovic was about to serve to stay in the tournament. But, as England does during the summer … more rain. 

Yet Djokovic wasn’t about to blame wet weather for his loss. “It’s not necessary to talk about rain conditions. It happened to both of us. I don’t want to take anything out of victory for Sam.”

Djokovic will not lose his number one ranking as a result of his loss. He had 16,950 points, coming in Monday. Two thousand points will be deducted at the end of Wimbledon and a few hundred added for his third round appearance. That will keep him well ahead of Andy Murray at number two. Even if Murray wins the tournament, which he is now favored to do, he’ll be at least 5,000 points behind Novak.

“Novak’s run has been amazing,” Murray told the press after his win over Aussie John Millman, The Daily Mail tweeted. “What he’s done in the last 12-18 months, I don’t think we’ll see for a long time.” 

Having that point cushion gives Djokovic lots of room for rest and recovery. He intimated that he may not play any tournament until the Rio Olympics. “We’ll see. I have to think about it.”

Querrey’s quarter of the draw has now opened up. Next up for him is the unseeded Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchman pushed passed his friend, compatriot, and number-one doubles partner Pierre-Hughes Herbert today, 7-6(5), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Their match was a carry over from Friday, as well. 




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