Querrey stuns Djokovic as Americans continue to excel at Wimbledon

July 2, 2016 04:57 PM

By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com

First, Sam Querrey celebrated, leaping into the air and pumping his fist. Then, after the congratulatory handshake at the net, he paused and gazed into the stands, seemingly as stunned by what he just accomplished as the packed house that jammed Wimbledon’s Court 1.

Querrey on Saturday achieved what no man had done in more than a year: He defeated Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam match. On another rainy day at the All England Club, the lanky Californian brought a sudden halt to a historic run by completing a stunning upset of world No. 1 and two-time defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5).

With the victory, the 28-year-old Querrey moves into the fourth round, where he will face unseeded Nicolas Mahut and attempt to move into a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in his career. He has previously reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2010 and at the US Open in 2008 and 2010.

For Djokovic, the loss snapped a 30-match Grand Slam winning streak that included four consecutive Slam titles – a run that made him the first man to hold all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969 and only the third man in history to do so (also Don Budge in 1938) – as well as nine straight Grand Slam semifinals and 28 Grand Slam quarterfinals in a row. The last time the Serb had lost prior to the quarters at a Slam was the French Open in 2009.

“It’s incredible to do it here at Wimbledon,” Querrey told Wimbledon.com. “I’m so ecstatic right now. I played the break points well, kept delivering the big serves and I fought hard in the tiebreak. I’m so happy.”

Querrey and Djokovic began their match on Friday, with the No. 28 seed scraping out the first set, 8-6 in a tiebreak, before capturing the second set in just 22 minutes. Rain forced numerous delays in the match, which was halted Friday night due to darkness.

The overnight break served as a reprieve for Djokovic, who quickly raced out to a 5-0 third-set lead when play resumed on Saturday. More rain postponed play Saturday – the match was interrupted five times in all over the two days – and Querrey gained one of the third-set breaks back. Djokovic would capture the set, 6-3, but the American had regained a semblance of momentum.

The fourth set stayed even into the tiebreak. Djokovic took an early 3-1 lead in the breaker, but Querrey held his nerve, claimed a mini-break to go up 6-4 and served it out on his second match point to score the year’s biggest tennis upset.

“It's an unbelievable win,” Querey said. “I slept great. I'm a pretty relaxed guy. Had an easy dinner at the house … nothing exciting. Got back here today and went to work. Just stayed the course, didn't do anything special. It can be tricky with all those rain delays, but fortunately [I] just went out there, served well the whole time [and] played a great tiebreaker at the end to get the win.”

Querrey was not the only American to excel on Day 6, however. His doubles partner, Steve Johnson, continued his red-hot run on grass by dispatching former Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. Johnson, who captured his first career ATP title at the Wimbledon tune-up in Nottingham a week ago, has now won eight consecutive matches on grass. He next faces seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the round of 16.  

Top-ranked American man John Isner, the No. 18 seed at the All England Club, nearly joined him but could not finish his match against No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Isner led, 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, when the match was suspended due to darkness.

In women’s play, No. 9 Madison Keys advanced to the fourth round with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Alize Cornet and No. 18 seed Sloane Stephens finally completed her rain-delayed second-round match, edging Mandy Minella, 3-6, 7-6, 8-6.

Keys next faces No. 5 seed Simona Halep as she looks to advance to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for a second consecutive year. Stephens plays No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round Sunday, with a possible round-of-16 showdown with Serena Williams looming.

The only loss on the day for the American contingent was No. 27 seed Jack Sock, who fell to No. 6 Milos Raonic in three tight sets, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Because of the week’s heavy rains, Wimbledon will host a rare middle Sunday session, with Isner and the American women Stephens, Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe and Julia Boserup scheduled to be in action.