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Sam Querrey could reprise his role as a Wimbledon giant-slayer

Day Seven: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019
Sam Querrey plays a forehand during his fourth-round match against Tennys Sandgren at Wimbledon on Monday.
(Matthias Hangst / Getty Images)

As this storied tournament inches toward a new chapter in an epic rivalry – Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal – a potential spoiler has emerged.

Sam Querrey advanced Monday to his third Wimbledon quarterfinal in four years with a four-set win over fellow American Tennys Sandgren. Querrey doesn’t figure to go quietly in his upcoming match against third-seeded Nadal, who beat Joao Sousa in straight sets.

Federer made light work of Matteo Berrettini, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, and will play Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

If Federer and Nadal were to win their next matches, they would play each other in a semifinal, their first meeting at Wimbledon since the legendary 2008 final, regarded by some as the greatest match in the history of the sport.

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But upsets happen, and no one knows that better than the 6-foot-6 Querrey, a towering giant-slayer. He beat Novak Djokovic here in 2016 and Andy Murray a year later – both have multiple Wimbledon singles titles – and another monumental conquest is within reach.

“I love playing here and I’m getting more comfortable every year,” said Querrey, a Thousand Oaks High graduate. “I like playing on the grass. It’s becoming more of a thing when I get here, I don’t care so much who I’m playing because I have just the confidence that I can make a run regardless of who’s in front of me.”

On a day when Serena Williams breezed to victory in a frictionless 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 15-year-old Coco Gauff saw an abrupt end to her sensational run, Querrey made his stand as the only remaining American on the men’s side, squeaking past Sandgren in a match decided by three consecutive tiebreakers, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5).

Meanwhile, defending champion and top-seeded Djokovic advanced with a straight-sets win over Ugo Humbert, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. The next-highest seed on his side of the draw is No. 21 David Goffin, whom he’ll face Wednesday.

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Nadal has a 4-1 career record against Querrey, although the only loss came in their most recent meeting, two years ago in Acapulco. This will mark the first time they have played each other on grass courts. Nadal’s 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Sousa lasted 1:45, more than an hour less than the Querrey-Sandgren slog (2:57).

“I think it’s irrelevant,” Querrey said of the duration disparity. “I mean, at slams you get the day off. Fortunately the two rounds before this were pretty light for me being three sets. I’m assuming I’m going to feel fine on Wednesday.”

Querrey’s biggest strength is his powerful serve, and through four rounds he leads this tournament with 100 aces. He has won 71 of 72 games he’s served, and, when he has gotten his first serve in, has won 86% of those points. Nobody has done better; the tournament average is 73%.

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“When he plays well, he can be very, very dangerous in all surfaces,” Nadal said of Querrey. “But, of course, in fast surfaces, when he serves with his aggressive game, maybe more.”

On the women’s side, No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was upset by unseeded American Alison Riske, losing for the first time in 16 matches.

It was a former world No. 1 Simona Halep who ended the storybook run of Gauff that included back-to-back-to-back upsets of Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog.

“I hope they learned about me that I’m a fighter,” Gauff said. “I’ll never give up. I hope they learned from me that, I mean, anything is possible if you work hard, just continue to dream big.

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“If somebody told me this maybe three weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t believe it. But I think just putting in the work definitely raised my confidence because I knew how hard I worked and I knew what shots I could make and what was possible.”


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