Wimbledon Third Round Sam Querrey Defeats Novak Djokovic
Sam Querrey, the 28th seed at Wimbledon, was not on many lists of players likely to end Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam winning run. The world no. 41 trailed Djokovic 8-1 in their head to head, (losing 6 ATP matches in straight sets, and winning a set in each of the two Davis Cup ones), had a reputation for not making the most of his chances, and was playing a man coming in off the back of winning his first Roland Garros title and looking to win his 31st consecutive Grand Slam match.
Despite all that history, the 28th seed got it done, inflicting a shock 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 upset on the two time defending champ.
Querrey, ranked as high as 17 in early 2011, showed just how dangerous he was on grass as he put together one of the biggest upsets in Grand slam tennis history.
The American, who won Queen’s club in 2010, finished runner-up in Newport (2009) and Nottingham (2015), and reached the Wimbledon last sixteen once (2010), and the third round once (2012), was elevated from world No.41 to the 28th seed at SW19, and was one of the more dangerous players for the top seeds to meet in the third round.
The 6ft 6 inches tall American status as a grass-court threat has been earned mostly on the back of his serve, harder to break on grass than on any other surface. His first strike tennis also helps, too.
A big serve and aggressive mindset, that’s just the kind of game to trouble Novak Djokovic.
Querrey was also having a good season coming into Wimbledon, winning the title at Delray Beach,(his first since 2012), reaching the semis of the Ricoh Open (lost to Nicolas Mahut), and making the semis of Acapulco (lost to Dominic Thiem), beating Kei Nishikori on the way.
He was having a great Wimbledon, too. In his first round, he came back from two sets to love down versus Lukas Rosol, winning 12-10 in the fifth, and then beat Thomaz Bellucci in straights.
But it was not just Querrey’s game that was clicking for him, he had external factors in his favor, too.
One crucial one was that his match versus the top seed was scheduled for Court No.1. Djokovic does not like the faster conditions of Court No.1- he says he is not as comfortable there as he is on Centre- and has gone to five sets versus tall big servers the last two years playing there (in 2015 versus Kevin Anderson, and in 2014 versus Marin Cilic).
If Court 1 was not enough to throw Djokovic off his game completely then the rain sent him over the edge. The stop-start nature of the match meant Djokovic was unable to work his way into a rhythm, especially on his return, (he converted just 3 of 17 break points), and without his rhythm on his strength, the top seed really was in trouble versus a player with the weapon of Querrey.
In form, coming off a huge confidence making win, and in favorable conditions, why was Sam Querrey overlooked?
While the 28 year old has an enormous serve, it has been known to let him down when he needs it to hold a lead. Recently in Madrid, he led Nadal 4-0 in the first set only to lose 4-6, 2-6.
Things do not get much bigger in tennis right now than defeating Djokovic in a Slam, and Querrey’s chances of seeing the win through even if he got a lead were not highly regarded.
This time though the serve was what held up for Querrey. The American said he played the break points very well. Aces and service winners were what was needed to get past the best returner and fighter in the game, and Querrey delivered, (he hit 31 aces in total).
That Djokovic fight is usually displayed in at least one of Djokovic’s early round matches at slams. Kevin Anderson (Wimbledon 2015), Gilles Simon (Australian Open 2016), and Roberto Bautista Agut (Roland Garros 2016) have all had him on the ropes, but none were been able to finish him off.
Querrey, however, did.
At times it looked like Querrey wouldn’t, that Djokovic would find a way to win. When the players returned the day after rain forced them to leave the court with Querrey leading two sets to love, Djokovic led 5-0 before closing it out, after another rain delay, 6-3.
In the fourth set, Djokovic served for the set at 5-4, and led in the tiebreaker.
Querrey was the one, however, who came up with the big shots on the big points, and exposed Djokovic’s poor performance, not allowing the Serb to stay in and steal the match on the back of getting one more ball back into play.
But while few thought Querrey would be the man to end Djokovic’s run, Querrey, crucially, did not think about it too much. He just fired away with the weapons he had, and got it done, ending Djokovic’s history making run, and putting an end to his own history of not taking his chances.
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