Querrey's unexpected confidence on clay burgeoning
An American ready to dig in and tackle the clay-court season? This can't be. It most certainly is, though, after Sam Querrey's startling win over Richard Gasquet in Monte Carlo to reach the quarterfinals.
Querrey working with Reyes
No matter what happens in Monte Carlo, Sam Querrey will be coming home for the next three weeks for an intensive training period with Andre Agassi's fitness mentor, Gil Reyes, in Las Vegas.
Querrey worked with Reyes for a week earlier this month "and just loved it,'' said his coach, Grant Doyle. "We're going to try to use him whenever we can.''
Reyes' strength and conditioning regimen was the foundation of Agassi's comeback in the late '90s and is universally credited with helping the legend stay competitive at the top level of the game until age 36.
"Aerobically, Sam is actually quite good, but he hasn't got a lot of strength,'' Doyle said. "He just stopped growing 18 months ago, so he's never been able to really work on his upper body or his legs. You're not supposed to do a lot of weight training while you're still growing.
"If he gets stronger and is able to put more oomph on his serve, the possibilities for him are endless.''
Querrey will return to Europe in mid-May to tune up for the French Open with a clay-court event in Poertschach, Austria.
-- Bonnie D. Ford
He very nearly didn't make the trip at all, but "decided to give it a shot and ventured over here by myself," Querrey said, while Aussie coach Grant Doyle stayed in the States due to family obligations."It does make it hard to find a warmup partner," Querrey said. He approached a local player in the locker room and the two have been hitting each day, although Querrey remains blissfully unaware of his lucky charm's name. The 20-year-old Californian spent seven weeks on European clay last year and went 1-5, but that tough slog is paying off now, according to Doyle. "He'd never had a significant period of time on clay in his life," the coach said. "I put absolutely no pressure on him, told him to just try to get better. "He's very good from the back, he's got a good forehand and serves very well. A lot of clay-court players don't like it when you get lots of free points on your serve." Doyle also noted that Querrey's 6-foot-6-inch vantage point actually gives him an edge in handling the elevated bounce. "He can deliver from up high, the ball sits up for him and lets him have a go at his shots," he said. Querrey agreed, saying, "I don't mind the ball up high around my shoulders. It's in my zone a lot." U.S. Davis Cup captain and ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe watched the third set of the Gasquet match and was impressed by Querrey's comfort level. "His serve is just as effective, and he has a little more time to get to the ball [on clay]," McEnroe said. "What gets him in trouble on hard court sometimes is when he has to move quickly to the ball. But he has good positioning and court awareness. "I remember speaking to him last year about playing in Europe. He played some close matches against good players, and he really thought it was worthwhile. He had the right attitude a year ago, and from that standpoint, I'm not surprised that he's playing well." Querrey looked overmatched in a swiftly concluded first set against No. 9 Gasquet, but said he consciously tried to slow the match down, place his first serve (he made 65 percent for the match) and play more aggressively.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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