by Kevin Craig
Sam Querrey was able to fend off a roaring comeback effort from Novak Djokovic on Saturday at Wimbledon, pulling off a massive upset in the third round.
The American won the match, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5), to reach his first fourth round at a major since 2010.
“It’s incredible, especially here at Wimbledon, the biggest tournament in the world. I’m so ecstatic right now, so happy,” said Querrey.
Querrey, the No. 41 player in the world, raced out to a two-set lead on Friday thanks to a top-notch performance and a bit of indifference from Djokovic, who had won 30 consecutive matches at the majors.
In the early goings, Querrey looked to be up to the task of playing the current holder of all four major titles as he used his serve and big ground strokes to dictate play. That style of play earned him the first set win in a tiebreak as he proved to the crowd, and more importantly himself, that he could win this match.
Querrey, who hit 31 aces in the match, carried that momentum over into the second set, going up an early break on Djokovic, who, at that point, looked like he had no interest in being on the court. In what seemed like just a few minutes, the American had taken the set 6-1 as his level of play never dropped, and found himself just one set away from the biggest win of his career.
It was at that point that the rain came and play had to be stopped for the day. This was not a new situation for the No. 1 player in the world though, as Djokovic found himself down two sets to Kevin Anderson in the fourth round of last year’s Wimbledon before coming back to win the match and eventually the title, so many believed he would be able to pull off a similar feat again.
That looked to be the case early on Saturday as the match resumed and the 12-time major champion quickly found himself up 4-0 in the third set. Alas, the rain had come again and stopped play. After a brief break, the two came back on court and Querrey looked to have risen slightly closer to the level of play he had on Friday, getting a break back and forcing Djokovic to feel some pressure before he was able to force a fourth set.
“I was ready for that,” said Querrey of Djokovic’s quick start on Saturday. “You knew he was mentally tough and that he was going to come back.”
That strong close to the third set allowed Querrey to carry some momentum into the fourth, where he put on a fight for the ages. The 6’6” American was able to fight off 11 of 12 break points he faced throughout the set, thanks, in part, to the 15 aces that he hit in the fourth set alone.
That one break point that Querrey didn’t save, though came at 4-4 all, giving Djokovic an opportunity to serve to force a fifth set. The Serb played a few loose points in that game, though, giving Querrey a look at two break points to get back on serve. The American was able to convert on the second one before holding for a 6-5 lead, putting himself just one game away from the win.
“I played the break points really well. I was able to come up with a big serve when I needed it,” said Querrey.
He would have to wait for that opportunity to win, though, as rain began to fall again, forcing the players off the court. After another break, the players returned to a raucous crowd waiting to see if the world No. 1 would fall.
When play resumed, Djokovic held at love to force a tiebreak, bringing the match to peak levels of intensity. The Serb was able to earn an early mini-break advantage thanks to a couple glaring mistakes from Querrey, but the roles quickly reversed as Djokovic became the one making errors.
Querrey, after winning a point on Djokovic’s serve, found himself up 6-4 with two match points.
Djokovic saved the first before a long rally ensued at 6-5, which ended with a ball flying wide off the racquet of Djokovic, another error, giving Querrey the massive win and a spot in the round of 16.
“Taking it one round at a time,” said Querrey when asked how far he thought he could go in the tournament. “Just be happy with this and look forward to the next round.”
Querrey will take on Nicolas Mahut in the fourth round as both will look to reach their first quarterfinal at a major.