What had been a big day for American women’s tennis ended early Wednesday morning with a big disappointment for an American man.
Sam Querrey had a chance to become the first American male to reach a U.S. Open semifinal since Andy Roddick in 2006, but he fell to Kevin Anderson, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-3, 7-6 (7), in a contest that ended at 1:51 a.m.
“This is incredible at this stage,” Anderson said in an on-court interview by ESPN. “It just feels absolutely fantastic.
“But at the same time,” he said a few minutes later at the postmatch news conference, “I’m still in this tournament and I feel like I have another opportunity to go one step further.”
The match, which followed quarterfinal women’s victories by Americans Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams, matched two big servers in the 6-6 Querrey and 6-8 Anderson.
Querrey, on whether being the Great American Hope weighed on him, said: “No, never thought about that. Just went out and did the best I could.”
The first set featured no breaks and came down to a tiebreak in which Anderson recovered from a 5-2 deficit with back-to-back returns of serves from Querrey that topped 130 miles per hour.
Anderson got the match’s first break in the fifth game of the second set, but Querrey broke back in the eighth and the set went to another tiebreaker, this time with Querrey winning, 11-9, after Anderson fell behind 6-1 and saved seven set points.
“After being 6-1 down, obviously it was a tough point to lose that 6-all point,” Anderson said. “I feel like that’s where I was able to reset.”
Anderson said that after saving seven set points and losing the tiebreaker anyway, perhaps he “would have been better off losing that tiebreaker, 7-1. I really thought I did a fantastic job resetting.”
Querrey was asked if he thought he might seize momentum coming out of the tiebreak win in the second set. “He has such a big serve, it’s hard to get a lot of momentum,” Querrey said. “I didn’t feel like, ‘Now I’m going to get some looks.’ ”
The third set turned when Anderson broke Querrey to go up 4-2 as the thousand or so fans still at Arthur Ashe Stadium loudly tried to urge on the American.
There were no breaks in the fourth set, leading to one last tiebreaker. Anderson won it, 9-7, to secure the victory after saving a set point.
“He’s tough to play against,” Querrey said of Anderson. “He’s so overly aggressive.”
Anderson, seeded 17th, advanced to his first grand slam semifinal and the first for a South African in the Open Era, where he will meet Pablo Carreno Busta, who (much) earlier won his quarterfinal over Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Anderson said after the match he heard from a number of prominent South Africans offering congratulations, including tennis player Wayne Ferreira and golfers Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.
Carreno Busta, a Spaniard seeded 12th, reached his first grand slam quarterfinal this year at the French Open, on clay, which is considered his best surface. Now this.
It helps that he has had a favorable draw. Schwartzman was the first seeded player he met after becoming the first player in the Open Era to play against four qualifiers in a Grand Slam.
“I know that I didn’t win matches against top players, top 10 or top 20 players,” he said, “but I am very happy with my tournament. The draw, sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are unlucky.”