Road to Prague: Sam Querrey
Tennis is all about timing, and John McEnroe looks to have caught Sam Querrey in the manner the American likes to catch his forehands – on the upswing.
The 29-year-old San Fransisco native is in the midst of what could yet be the finest years of his career, with best-ever runs at the majors, a new career-high ranking, and an outside shot at a top-10 finish by season’s end. Combine that with a pistol-whip of a serve and a newfound confidence and swagger, and the visitors might just have a joker in their pack.
“Team Europe might have three Grand Slam champions, but Team World has four of the biggest servers in the world,” McEnroe said when announcing Querrey’s call-up.
“Sam is a dangerous player who has twice upset the world No.1 at Wimbledon in the past two years, so he brings a big game.”
It is eight years since a freak accident almost cost Querrey his career, as a fall through a glass coffee table in a changing room in Bangkok came within millimeters of severing the nerves in his right forearm. The American recovered and went on to post the best season of his career in 2010, claiming four titles and ending the year at No.18 in the world.
But since beating then-world No.1 Novak Djokovic at last year’s Championships at Wimbledon, Querrey is enjoying a resurgence that may yet see 2017 eclipse his achievements seven years ago. Triumphs in Los Cabos and Acapulco – where he beat four top-20 opponents, including Rafael Nadal in the final – make this just the second season in which he has claimed multiple titles.
Further milestones came at the majors. In July, a second win over the incumbent No.1 and defending champion at Wimbledon – this time Andy Murray – propelled him to the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career, where he came up short against Marin Cilic. Then at the US Open he reached the quarterfinal for the first time, the first American to do so since Andy Roddick in 2011, with a scintillating demolition of Mischa Zverev in the fourth round for the loss of just five games. Eventual finalist Kevin Anderson ended his run in four tight sets.
For all that, Querrey insists, don’t call it a comeback – or a late-career surge. “I hope I’ve got, whatever, five, six years left in me,” Querrey said in New York. “I wouldn’t consider myself a late-bloomer; I’ve been decent for 10 years. I’m hoping I can continue having more years like this into my thirties.”
Querrey’s ranking shot to a career-high No.16 off the back of his runs at Wimbledon and the US Open, while he is currently in the hunt for one of the eight qualifying spots for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London. He is also now the US No.1, just one ranking spot ahead of John Isner, with fellow Team World teammate Jack Sock not far behind at No.21.
For now, however, McEnroe’s California man is riding the wave all the way to the O2 Arena.
“Beating four top-20 players to win Acapulco and making the Wimbledon semifinals have been new highs for me,” Querrey said after his call-up. “It has been a fun season so far and now I can’t wait to be part of the Laver Cup too.”
QUERREY’S ROAD TO PRAGUE
Brisbane International (outdoor hard): Round of 32 lost to Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-4
Australian Open (outdoor hard): Round of 32 lost to Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-4
Memphis Open (outdoor hard): Round of 16 lost to Ryan Harrison 6-3 6-1
Delray Beach Open (outdoor hard): Quarterfinal lost to Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 7-5
Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco (outdoor hard): Final beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 7-6(3)
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells (outdoor hard): Round of 64 lost to Donald Young 6-3 3-6 6-3
Miami Open (outdoor hard): Round of 32 lost to Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-2 6-3
US Men’s Clay Court Championship, Houston (outdoor clay): Quarterfinal lost to Thomaz Bellucci 6-4 3-6 6-3
Internazionali BNL d’Italia (outdoor clay): Round of 16 lost to Dominic Thiem 3-6 6-3 7-6(7)
Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open (outdoor clay): Quarterfinal lost to Stan Wawrinka 4-6 7-5 6-2
Roland Garros (outdoor clay): Round of 128 lost to Hyeon Chung 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3
Aegon Championships, Queen’s (outdoor grass): Quarterfinal lost to Gilles Muller 6-4 7-6(5)
Aegon International, Eastbourne (outdoor grass): Round of 32 lost to Daniil Medvedev 6-3 7-5
Wimbledon (outdoor grass): Semifinal lost to Marin Cilic 6-7(6) 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5
Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel, Los Cabos (outdoor hard): Final beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 3-6 6-2
Coupe Rogers, Montreal (outdoor hard): Round of 16 lost to Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-1
Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati (outdoor hard): Round of 32 lost to Adrian Mannarino 6-2 7-6(4)
US Open (outdoor hard): Quarterfinal lost to Kevin Anderson 7-6(5) 6-7(9) 6-3 7-6(7)