Querrey avoided major nerve damage

Updated: November 17, 2009, 9:27 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- American Sam Querrey is back practicing for his return to the ATP Tour after he cut two muscles in his right forearm when he sat on a glass table that broke in Thailand.

The world's 25th-ranked player said Tuesday he narrowly avoided damaging the nerve in his serving arm that would have ended his tennis career.

[+] EnlargeSam Querrey
Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesSam Querrey, here at the 2009 U.S. Open, rose as high as No. 22 in the rankings before a freak arm injury ended his season.

Querrey hurt himself on Sept. 28 after practicing at the Thailand Open. He sat on a couch before going to take a shower. Afterward, he didn't want to sit back in the same sweaty spot on the couch to put on his socks and shoes.

So he fatefully plopped down on the glass table, and it shattered.

"I fell through it," he recalled. "When I got up, there was a piece of glass in my arm. Blood was gushing out. I ran down to the trainer. The doctor came and we got the ambulance and went to the hospital."

Querrey whipped out his cell phone to display a photo of the open wound before it was closed up with 25 stitches during an hourlong surgery in a Bangkok hospital. He cut 30 percent of two different muscles in his arm.

The evidence is a thin, red 3-inch scar on the inside of his arm.

"I was actually more nervous when I got home and I finally took the splint off after two weeks," he said. "If my wrist moved in the slightest way, it would send shooting pain down my arm. I didn't know if I was going to get better."

During his recovery to strengthen the muscles in his wrist and recover his range of motion, Querrey was forced to do everything with his left hand, including brushing his teeth.

He says his arm feels good, although his serve isn't quite where it was before the accident.

"My shoulder, it takes a while to warm it up and get that motion going," he said. "Other than that I feel no difference in any part of my game."

The accident cut short his career-best season, forcing him to miss five tournaments. The 22-year-old Californian reached five ATP Tour finals this year, putting him in the elite company of No. 1 Roger Federer, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, third-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Andy Murray as players who made at least that many finals.

Querrey won one of those finals, at Los Angeles, and his results were good enough to win the U.S. Open Series and rose to a career-high 22nd in the rankings. He lost in the third round of the U.S. Open and finished the year with a 41-23 mark.

No. 6 Andy Roddick is the highest-ranked American on the men's tour. After him and Querrey, only No. 44 James Blake is ranked among the top 50.

Querrey heard from Roddick and Blake after the accident, but he was most excited about an e-mail from Federer wishing him well.

"That was the greatest," he said, smiling. "I was so happy. It made my day. It was almost worth it."

He thinks the accident probably cost him a chance to move into the world's top 20.

"Fortunately, my ranking is still high, so I'll be seeded at the Australian Open," he said. "Most of the matches I play now because of my ranking I'm expected to win. I'm not really the new guy."

Querrey began hitting for the first time last week in preparation for his return to match play at the Brisbane International during the first week of January.

"I really want to focus more next year on the Slams," he said.

Mostly though, he's grateful the accident didn't cost him his fledgling career.

"It kind of makes you appreciate some things a little more," he said. "This whole last week I've never once got upset or mad on the court. I'm just happy to be playing."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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