As per usual, the first round of the men’s singles draw at Wimbledon was a bloodbath. Eleven seeds were unable to survive their debut. Sam Querrey, a battle-hardened soldier in the SW19 trenches, was the perpetrator of one of these upsets, defeating World No. 13 Pablo Carreño Busta in straight sets.
Avid fans will point out that Querrey beating Carreño is not an upset at all. Rightfully so. At the end of the day, the California native was 15-4 at Wimbledon since 2016, whereas the soon-to-be 30-year-old Spaniard was still winless at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. And yet, this performance was hardly imaginable a month ago.
Rough stretch after the Covid break
Querrey never found his groove toward the end of 2019 season after his third run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals. However, his results got noticeably worse post-pandemic, losing to then-unranked Andrey Kuznetsov at the US Open and against 37-year-old protected ranking Hall of Famer Yen-hsun Lu in Miami. Dreadful stuff.
Then the grass court season started and voilà, Querrey quickly found his mojo. He reached his first semifinal in two years in Stuttgart, where he lost to an inspired Felix Auger-Aliassime. The following week in Halle, he pushed eventual champion Ugo Humbert to a final set tiebreak.
Next, Querrey flew from the German mainland to Mallorca, which is unofficially a German province as well, and kept playing excellent tennis. He defeated 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut and the sneaky Adrian Mannarino en route to the final. Daniil Medvedev’s retrieving skills were too much to handle, but Querrey had already confirmed his resuscitation ahead of Wimbledon. Mission accomplished.
One of the safest bets to win matches at Wimbledon
Early on in his career, Querrey endured a fair amount of heartbreaking losses at Wimbledon, two of them against Marin Cilic, 6-4 and 17-15 in the fifth set, respectively. Up until 2015, he had only advanced once to the Round of 16. But then 2016 happened. In the third round, out of nowhere, Querrey snapped Novak Djokovic’s bid to win the calendar year Grand Slam. He ended up losing in the quarterfinals against Milos Raonic in four tight sets.
In 2017, Querrey one-upped himself, beating Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga, Kevin Anderson, and defending champion Andy Murray on his way to the semis, where he fell to his nemesis Cilic in four sets. 2018 was a down year by his standards, capitulating in the third round against Gael Monfils. But the American went on a deep run again in 2019, defeating Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev back-to-back before succumbing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
John Isner was inches away from reaching the final in 2019, plus he’ll be forever be associated with his legendary win over Nicolas Mahut. However, Querrey has been by far the United States’ best hope on grass ever since Andy Roddick hung up his racket.
According to Tennis Abstract, Sam Querrey is favored to win not only against James Duckworth in the Round of 64, but he is also expected to dismiss either Lorenzo Sonego or Daniel Galan on Saturday.
Anything can happen in tennis, but if I were his private jet pilot, I would be making fun plans in London for the weekend. No emergency takeoff in sight.
Main Photo from Getty.