Sam Querrey Shows Us Some Heart
It seems as if Sam Querrey has a soft spot for Los Angeles.
The laid-back 6’6 American has always performed well in America, last year winning the US Open Series, but in successfully defending his title in Los Angeles today he showed us a different side of a man known for fiddling between points with his racket. Querrey has always been a relaxed all-American kind of guy but seemed to lack the winning attitude to ever capitalise on his potential. With his huge forehand and big serve the Californian has always been tipped to replace Andy Roddick as America’s best but it wasn’t until this week that he finally seemed to believe it as well.
Despite decent results all year, the 20th ranked American lacked spark on the big stage and his improved play was mainly overshadowed by a touch of immaturity displayed during Roland Garros. Querrey was expected to do well in Paris but instead fell to Robby Ginepri in the first round 6-4 6-7 4-6 2-6. It wasn’t that he lost so much but his comments and actions after that match that caused controversy. Querrey admitted to ‘tanking’ on points and said he ‘just wasn’t into it mentally.’ Querrey said he wasn’t enjoying the competition and that he hadn’t ‘been a professional for the past few months’. He promptly pulled out of doubles with good friend John Isner, quit Twitter, and headed home. His tennis recovered with decent results in both Queens and at Wimbledon but some of his reputation has been dented. A little hope had been lost surrounding the prospects of Sam Querrey.
Yet this week Querrey showed that he had learnt from his mistakes and was ready to make amends. Inspired by his home crowd and personal fan-base, the Samurai, Querrey fought to defend his title. He survived a tough match against Kevin Anderson, eventually prevailing 7-6(10) 4-6 6-0. He then found himself in an uphill battle against Rainer Schuettler who served for the match in the third set. Querrey managed overcome his own poor serving display to win 6-2 3-6 7-6 (9-7). His tournament didn’t get any easier as he came up against an in-form Janko Tipsarevic and had to fight back from 5-1 down in the tiebreak and face match point before he overcame the Serb 6-7 7-6 6-4. By the time he was due to face Andy Murray in the final it was clear this was a different Querrey.
Querrey hadn’t even taken a set off Murray in five attempts and after going down 7-5 in the first set his chances of breaking that losing streak weren’t looking too hot. The second set continued in the same pattern as the first with Querrey out playing Murray at times but Murray’s steadiness and retrieving abilities putting the American under pressure; Querrey missed a few easy overheads and put-aways. However Querrey wasn’t willing to let the fourth ranked player win without a fight and forehands that were once going long started find the lines. Murray had championship point but Querrey managed to save it after a long rally. There was resilence in Querrey’s eyes and no tanking in sight. Querrey managed to force a tiebreak and from then on it was Murray who looked nervous. Querrey played what can only be the best tie-breaker of his life to force a third set. He continued the excellent form to claim the third 6-3 and with it the title.
Murray was left wanting his first title of 2010 as Sam held up his fourth trophy of the season. What was more important though was his new fighting spirit. Perhaps the American is no longer content to be the cool kid, the calm guy that twiddles his racket in between points and jokes about the pretty sponsorship girls in his runners-up speeches. There was no denying his joy in his post-match interviews. “This feels great,” Querrey said. “This is maybe the best I’ve ever felt. I’m really happy, really ecstatic. Hopefully it will be a great start to the summer.” Querrey confirmed that this win could only give him more confience: Now I have the belief that if I can play him again I can maybe win or if I play another top-10 guy. The next step is the Masters Series and the Grand Slam events.”
Perhaps the 22-year-old is finally ready to make a serious go with his talent. With two Masters series and a Grand Slam coming up, what better place to do it than in the States. After all, America seems to have a soft spot for him too.