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Sam Querrey Shows Us Some Heart

August 2, 2010

It seems as if Sam Querrey has a soft spot for Los Angeles.

Britain's Andy Murray reacts by kicking a ball during the final of the Farmers Classic ATP Tennis Open tournament in Los Angeles against Sam Querrey of the US on August 1, 2010. Querrey won 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

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.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01:  Sam Querrey celebrates with the trophy following his victory over Andy Murray of Great Britain during the final of the Farmers Classic at the Los Angeles Tennis Center - UCLA on August 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. passingshot permalink
    August 5, 2010 2:34 am

    Querry’s latest success tends to demonstrate that a shotmaker who is “on” will probably beat the counterpuncher on that day – even though the counterpuncher may generally win more matches through patience and consistency. Murray is essentially a counterpuncher, which is why I believe he is still to take the game’s top prizes. He spends too much time waiting for his opponent to miss. Sooner or later in a tournament he runs into a player who is going for his shots – and not missing.

    An exception to the formula has been Murray’s wins against Nadal, where he has tended to be the more aggressive player. In the Australian Open this year he maintained the edge of attack against Nadal, and it worked for him.

    Another sobering thought for Murray is that great “backhand players” don’t generally win grand slams. The last was Gaston Gaudio at the French in 2004. Before him you have to go back to Stefan Edberg, who had virtually no forehand – but then Edberg was, off the serve, probably the greatest net-attacking player of his generation. Remember serve and volley? Wow!

    Querry has a very big forehand, set-up too by a very big serve – these players can be a nightmare for the counter-puncher. However his backhand ain’t as strong as it could be. I watched him play David Ferrer in Auckland two years ago, and although he won that match (a semi) his backhand wasn’t a strong as the gritty little Spaniards’s. When he played (and lost) against Del Potro in the final the difference was critically in their backhands – Del Potro was just so solid. But Del Potro certainly has big weapons as well in the serve and forehand.

    The modern game is built around the serve and the forehand. That is bad news for Murray with his, at his level, relatively indifferent forehand. However, a counterpuncher still rules at the top (for now), because of a preternatural capacity to time and time again outrun the winners hit by his opponents over 5 sets. It defies understanding but there it is – until another big shotmaker comes along and asserts the “natural order”, as Del Potro did at the US Open last year. With the Big “D” still in the wings, the opportunity may now be there for Querry.

  2. passingshot permalink
    August 7, 2010 3:08 am

    To be fair to the women’s game, there is quite a lot of one-dimensional unintelligent tennis being played on the men’s tour as well. The only thing that differentiates them is that the men’s game is more powerful and more athletic, as you would expect. I think a problem in the game generally is the emphasis is now almost totally on power, and this is largely the result of changes in racquet and string technology. As a result, players often don’t have a plan ‘B’ when they start missing – or when an opponent like Nadal gets everything back – and then you see the mental ‘meltdown’. It’s frustrating to watch. And being kinda old-fashioned about this, on-court histrionics doesn’t make it more interesting.

    I guess that’s why some of us really miss Federer when he was at his peak – with him, you got everything. We were spoiled.

    Hewitt is like a little dog that keeps snapping at your shins, and just won’t go away – but you admire his pluck. Djocko I strangely like – even though he’s constantly on the edge of psychological disntegration (although no one can match Safina in that department), while Murray is smart but perpetually unhappy and ultimately watching him is as joyless as a trip to the dentist. I am backing the “big” guys – we need Delpo back, I like Cilic, and I’m hoping Querry gets a better backhand.

    On the women’s side, I used to love Henin’s game, but she is looking mentally suspect and a bit brittle now. I am betting her new career won’t be too long. Clijsters is a great but erratic ball-striker who often seems to play blind-folded, but as for the innumerable unpronounceable Russian clones and Bolleteri proteges – well there isn’t anything to keep me sitting up to watch their matches. Time for something really new.

    P.S. I agree the Vika/Serena match had its moments but there again was a match where if Vika had played better percentages in her shot selection and execution (including on her serve) she could have taken that match. Too much wild hitting at the key moments. Another one where Serena slid through with some help from her opponent.

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