Sam Querrey’s engine will be revving Tuesday night. It’s the U.S. Open quarterfinals and Querrey is the first American man to advance this far at Flushing Meadows in six years.
It’s a prime-time match, under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Open’s No. 1 show court.
Querrey will play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, seeded nine places below Querrey’s No. 17, with a chance of becoming the first American man to reach the Open semis since Andy Roddick in 2006.
That was the year Querrey turned pro. Always a fairly tough out in these events, he is only now — finally, at 29 — shouldering his way into some star treatment. “Most guys don’t have their best year 11 years into a career,” he said. “It’s exciting at 29 to do this.”
Not until Sunday, for his fourth-round victory over Russian Mischa Zverev, was Querrey deemed worthy of a night match in Ashe. Not until the 39th of his 44 Grand Slam events — Wimbledon 2016 — did Querrey make a run to a major-tournament quarterfinal, and this year he pushed beyond that into the Wimbledon semis.
So a Slam quarterfinal “is still kind of new,” he said. “It’s still really exciting. I’ve kind of said it before: Experience sometimes I feel is overrated. I don’t think it will have any say in how I play” tonight. “But it’s a fun stage to be on.
“I think I’m playing confident. I’m playing well.” Probably, he said, the best of his career.
Querrey was reminded that he nevertheless remains something less than a crowd magnet. His insouciant demeanor on court has struck some, misunderstanding his personality, as a lack of caring.
“I’m just doing what I do,” he said. “I play my best when I’m not too emotional either way. People can come out and watch me if they want. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to.”
Anyway, he has faced tougher things than losing a tennis match. In 2009, after practicing in Bangkok for the Thailand Open, Querrey suffered a potentially career-threatening injury while relaxing in the players’ lounge. He had sat on a glass coffee table and, when it suddenly collapsed under his 6-6 frame, his right arm — he is righthanded — was impaled.
He required emergency surgery, but the severe cut just missed causing nerve damage. And he was back on tour in six weeks. Looking nonchalant, but working his way eventually toward a feature presentation in Ashe.