Sam Querrey rid himself of a personal nemesis on Saturday, finally finding a way to beat Adrian Mannarino, and he picked a good place to do it.
It was the semifinals of the New York Open at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum before a supportive crowd, and he could use all the help he could get. That’s because the pesky Mannarino gave him all he could ask for, but in the end Querrey came away with a 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 win that puts him in Sunday’s final against Kevin Anderson, a winner over Kei Nishikori in the late match.
The pair had played three times previously, all on hard court, the last time in Cincinnati last year. Mannarino had won all of them. Querrey, the 12th ranked player in the world, had not previously found a solution to the 25th-ranked Mannarino’s very deft, clever soft ball game, one that comes with a sly lefty serve.
“It feels like I beat Rafa [Nadal] out there,” Querrey said. “The guy is so tricky. It’s my first time beating him, so happy to be in the finals.”
Mannarino has never won on tour, but that doesn’t mean he’s an easy out. “He’s left handed, he’s crafty, he keeps the ball so low, it’s at my ankles half the time so it’s tough to be aggressive,” the 6-6 Querrey said. “Sometimes you don’t match up well against someone and I don’t think I match up great against him.”
Mannarino was downtrodden about not being able to make the fifth final of his career.
“He was serving very well and took his chances in the best moments,” said Mannarino, who failed to convert three break points in the sixth game of the third set, a key point of the match. “Maybe get a little tight after missing the break points.”
At the end of the match, Querrey, so focused on what he needed to do to win points and games, was oblivious to the fact he actually won.
“I thought I was up 4-2 and it was break point,” said Querrey. “I gave a fist pump and I was walking to the bench, then the crowd was like a little too loud for just a break of serve. Oh my gosh, I won.”
No such oblivion existed for Anderson, the tournament’s first seed.
Anderson had stormed out to a lead in the first set, breaking Nishikori’s first two serves and cruising. But as you would expect of one of the world’s top players, Nishikori got his feet under him in the second set and Anderson knew he would be in for a longer evening. Nishikori earned a break in the fourth game of the second, though Anderson made him earn the set by taking him to three deuces in the deciding ninth game.
The third set was clean of breaks and Anderson was able to close out the tiebreak with four straight points for the victory.
It continues to be a good trip back to New York for Max Mirnyi, who started his career as a 13-year-old immigrant from Belarus in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The 40-year-old, who is an exclusive doubles player now, made the final with partner Phillip Oswald with a 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 victory over Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson. It will be Mirnyi’s 96th career doubles final.
Note singles doesn’t start before 330
New York Open
Sunday matches 1 p.m.
Max Mirnyi (BLR) and Philipp Oswald (AUT)
Wesley Koolhof (NED) and Artem Sitar (NZL)
or Radu Albot (MDA) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)
Singles championship, not before 3:30
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA) or Kei Nishikori (JPN)