Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
All good things come to those who wait – and oh, how Sam Querrey has waited. At the age of 29 and in his 42nd Grand Slam tournament, he has reached his first semi-final with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1 win over Andy Murray.
He managed to hold his nerve when he needed to most and, in the end, he simply brushed aside the clearly injured world No.1. And he could not believe what he had just done.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock myself,” he said. “I’m just thrilled right now. I didn’t start my best, I just kept with it, kept swinging away and then just kind of found my rhythm in the fourth and fifth set and then everything seemed to be falling my way then.
“This is a dream come true: to be in the semi-finals and for it to be at Wimbledon makes it a little more special.”
Querrey and his serve were supposed to present the biggest challenge yet to Murray and the defence of his title. The quiet and slightly shy American had cause to hold his head high as he headed for Centre Court – and standing 6ft 6ins, Querrey’s head is usually higher than most.
Last year he made the headlines by knocking out Djokovic in the third round and then going on to reach the quarter-finals. Reaching the last eight again this year showed a hitherto unheard of level of consistency at the major events for the 28-year-old American.
But Querrey’s feelgood factor did not last long. Murray could trump him in almost every department (wingspan notwithstanding). Murray was playing his 10th consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final; he was attempting to reach his eighth Wimbledon semi-final and his ultimate ambition is to win his third title in SW19. And that record just covered his exploits at the All England Club.
When it comes to the rest of the Tour, Murray had not lost to an American since 2011 (Alex Bogomolov Jr in the second round in Miami, in case you were wondering). He had won 25 consecutive matches against Americans since then and when it comes to the Grand Slam events, Murray had only ever lost to an American once before (Andy Roddick in the semi-finals here back in 2009). Murray was playing the big man but it was Querrey who had the mountain to climb.
It did not help that Querrey started with his nerves jangling and his pulse racing. Watched by the good and the great of stage, match court and velodrome, superstars all from Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Fred Stolle to Sir Chris Hoy to Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Maggie Smith, the big man needed to remember his lines and try not to bump into the furniture. Alas, that involved multitasking and felled by stage fright for the first three games, it proved all but impossible.
Murray broke in the second game of the match as Querrey tried to unlock his serving arm – and that was all it took to make the difference in the opening set.
But nerves are odd coves. They can strike at any moment, no matter how good, how experienced or how successful their victim may be. Murray was cruising with a break in hand in the second set when Querrey applied the merest hint of pressure – he was 15-30 on the Murray serve – and the defending champion got the jitters. A couple of thumping backhands from Querrey and a flubbed drop shot from Murray and it was back to level terms.
For the next two games, Murray looked as tight as drum while Querrey was growing in confidence by the second (fortunately that was the only area of growth: he already has size 14 shoes; if they get any bigger he will have to declare them as excess baggage). With one last backhand, Querrey claimed the set and was back in the match, though it was hard to tell from his expression. The American is not what you would call exuberant.
Not that he had much time to celebrate, mind you. The opening game of the third set saw Querrey retreat into his shell and Murray have a field day. But again Querrey came back only to play a horror of a tie-break and find himself down two sets to one. Little did he know that that would be pretty much the end of Murray’s challenge.
By now, the defending champion was hobbling around the baseline in obvious pain – that sore hip was making its presence felt. The speed of Murray’s second serve was dropping with every service game and he was trying to hit every ball off one leg. Three times he went to serve; three times Querrey swatted him away, a run of success that meant that the American had forced a fifth set and was serving first, to boot.
Up in the players’ box, the Murray camp had grim faces. In 10 brief minutes of the fifth set, their man was 3-0 down and looking to be in no physical state to come back. He had run off five games in a row to beat Fabio Fognini on Friday evening but that was seven sets ago, seven sets on an already fragile hip. This time the task seemed too great, even for Murray.
He tried, did Murray, but Querrey smelled blood. He hustled and he harried and he prised the points from the Scot’s racket. And after two hours and 42 minutes he was into the semi-finals for the first time in his life.