Sam Querrey hopes his big Wimbledon win can provide boost to American tennis
Via USA Today
WIMBLEDON, England — To take in Sam Querrey is to behold a 6-6 athlete sporting shoes in size 13 1/2 or 14, who looks every inch the baby-faced boy next door. But no one should be fooled by his wholesome appearance.
The last two years he’s become the giant killer of Wimbledon, armed with an assassin’s serve and forehand. In successive years, he’s taken down two guys with the double distinction of being ranked No. 1 and also being the defending champion.
This year he ended Andy Murray’s fortnight with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1 upset that places Querrey into his first semifinal in 42 Grand Slams. That is the Open era record for most Grand Slam attempts before reaching a semifinal.
Last year Querrey upset Novak Djokovic 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the third round — his first career victory against a No. 1 — and journeyed onto his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Querrey, who is seeded 24th, is not quite the known entity as the Murrays and Djokovics of the world. So it seemed natural to ask the Southern Californian after his victory to flesh out who he is for tennis fans. The self-description was a bit wanting: “I’m ranked 26, pretty good grass-court player. That’s about it.”
Memo to Querrey: Just for accuracy sake, the ranking is No. 28, but no doubt rising with this Wimbledon result.
It’s always a big deal when an unexpected player breaks into the final four at a Grand Slam. For American tennis, it must feel like it’s time to party.
American men haven’t been on the scene in the late stages of the four majors for a very long time. In just the 2 hours, 42 minutes it took Querrey to bypass Murray, the 29-year-old became the first American to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Andy Roddick was a finalist here in 2009.
Now retired Roddick, who is five years out of the game and will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this month, was the only American to reach a Grand Slam semifinal in the past decade, which he did at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2009.
Querrey holds the distinction of being the only active American to reach multiple Grand Slam quarterfinals. John Isner is the only other active American to play in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, which he did at the 2011 U.S. Open.
“I mean, American tennis isn’t that bad,” said Querrey, offering a smile. “I know it kind of gets a bad rep. That’s just ’cause guys don’t win majors. We got four guys in the top 30 (No. 18 Jack Sock, No. 21 Isner, Querrey, and just outside at No. 31 Steve Johnson), a great group of young guys.
“To be in the semis is great,” he added. “Hopefully myself and the other guys up there can have more weeks like this. Hopefully, American tennis will get a little boost from this, maybe, and other guys will gain some confidence, and we can just have more and more guys go deeper in Slams.”
Querrey was one of those young players who was singled out as a potential American star almost from the moment he turned down a Southern California scholarship to go pro. He chose the pros instead of college with his banker father Mike’s blessing — dad was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, but instead went to the University of Arizona, and didn’t want Sam to also have to wonder what he might’ve missed out on.
Querrey won the first Challenger-level tournament he played as a pro and high expectations followed.
While he hasn’t made it to top-10 status, he’s had a steady and satisfying career and has ranked as high as No. 17. He’s played at the ATP Tour-level since 2006 and can boast ownership of nine career titles, with the latest coming at Acapulco, where he defeated Rafael Nadal in the championship match in early March.
In 2013, Querrey had a particularly difficult season when his engagement fell apart. Still looking for love in 2015, Querrey was featured in an episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker on the Bravo network. Unfortunately, Patti Stanger, the host of the show, didn’t earn her finder’s fee by discovering
Querrey’s soulmate. But not to worry, he’s in a more than two-year relationship with model Abby Dixon.
If Querrey can get by seventh seed Marin Cilic of Croatia on Friday, he would be one match away from a Grand Slam title.
But before he can even contemplate that possibility he needs to cope with the newness of being a Grand Slam semifinalist.
“This is the first time I’ve been in the situation,” he said. “I’m still pretty excited. I think it helps we get a day off tomorrow so you have a day to kind of relax, wind down, actually hit some tennis balls again before you go out on the stage and play a semifinal match.”
View Sam Querrey