Querrey's timely signs of grass mastery
WIMBLEDON, England -- They may not have the telepathy of the Bryan brothers, but Sam Querrey and John Isner didn't need to exchange any words in the locker room Friday morning for both to know their Wimbledon doubles campaign was over.
Isner's clear exhaustion in a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 defeat to Thiemo de Bakker in singles said it all.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/John SuperSam Querrey has won seven straight matches on grass, a surface he's still mastering but that is well-suited to his game.
"We just kind of joked around, never really even talked about doubles," Querrey told reporters on Friday after the withdrawal was announced. "I think it was a given we were pulling out."
His neck was stiff, his shoulder numb and his toes red and blistered -- the fallout from the record-breaking contest that gripped the sporting world for two days as it extended into the realm of wildest imagination. Coming into the match with 169 consecutive holds and 112 aces, Isner was broken in his first four service games and had no aces in a 74-minute defeat in the second round.
Isner now flies home to do "anything but tennis" for the next few days, leaving Querrey to carry the banner for the next generation of American players.
Although Andy Murray looms in the fourth round, the 22-year-old has a chance to shine this Wimbledon fortnight. He has now won seven straight matches on grass, quietly coming through a tight second-round match while all eyes were on the ballooning scoreline for Isner-Mahut on Court 18.
That's where Querrey's attention was, too -- when he wasn't playing. "They started on Tuesday, I watched that on TV," he said. "On Wednesday, I watched the entire thing from the ESPN studios … sat in the window, watched the whole thing.
"Yesterday, I had to go on [court] at 65-65 all or something. And then I heard the roars and I knew it was over. I didn't know he won, though, until I sat down and they posted it on the big screen."
Querrey will be fully focused on his own match when he next takes the court, for his third-round match against talented Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse. "He's playing great, he was in the semifinal here before," Querrey said. "It's going to be a tough one. But if I play like I've been playing, I like my chances."
The two faced off in the quarterfinals at Queen's two weeks ago, with Querrey winning in straight sets on his way to his first grass-court title. It has been a stark contrast to the way he exited at the French Open earlier this month, when Querrey frankly admitted he "just wanted to get off the court."
"It came out a little harsh," Querrey said. "A lot of times people say things you don't mean right after -- the heat of the moment. So I kind of regret how some things came out.
"But whatever. I'm past it now. Some people didn't like the frankness; some people did."
A place at the table
Sam Querrey is at Wimbledon as a newly elected member of the ATP's Player Council, which serves as the players' voice in the running of the tour. He joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Nenad Zimonjic in the role.
"I just wanted to be involved," Querrey said. "I'm one of the younger guys. I want to know what the council's all about and what kind of difference and chances we could possibly make in the future."
He will also bring some suggestions to the table. "I think they come to us with a list of things we need to go over, but we also have ideas," he said. "Wimbledon doubles, I wouldn't be opposed to going two out of three [sets].
"I also think possibly doing something where you take the combined singles and doubles ranking and maybe get some type of bonus at the end of the year," Querrey said, then grinned, "I say that -- I'm like No. 1 or 2 on the list."
And with the John Isner epic in mind, Querrey added: "I'm a fan of a tiebreak in the fifth set."
"It'll be entertaining," Roddick said, contemplating the easygoing Querrey's presence on the council. "He's going to try to get a vote for burritos in the lunchroom."
"If he wants it, I'll try to get it," Querrey replied.
The usually laid-back, it's-all-good Querrey went home and took nearly a week off after his loss at the French Open and reflected on what had happened. By his own admission, he had overdone things, playing almost nonstop after a career scare last fall. Sitting on a glass table to tie his shoes at the ATP event on Bangkok, Querrey fell through, cutting his arm badly and requiring emergency medical treatment.
He and coach David Nainkin discussed how to change his mind-set. "We sat down and talked about it and needed to try to make some change mentally with my attitude," Querrey said.
He has found a tactic that seems to be working well. "The only thing I'm just really focused on is body language, the first few seconds after every point," he said. "Not getting down on myself, no matter what happens.
"I'm still trying to figure it out because when I do get down on myself, I can't bring myself back up -- it's really tough for me.
"So I'm just trying to stay up and remind myself if I double-fault on an important point or if I do something I'm not happy with, I try to do the best I can at just staying positive and forgetting it right away. And I've done that ever since my first round at Queen's."
Not that Querrey had had much reason to be down on himself recently. He has yet to produce a bad performance during the grass-court season, running through a laundry list of things he's happy about.
"I'm serving great," he said. "If you take Queen's and here, it's seven matches -- I think I've only lost serve three or four times. I'm timing the ball better than I ever have. I'm really feeling crisp from the baseline. Forehand's feeling great. I'm hitting my inside-out forehand better than I ever have."
And after struggling with his movement and the quirks of grass during his first few forays on the surface, the free-swinging 6-foot-6 Californian is also figuring out how to make use of a surface that should otherwise be suited to his game.
"You've definitely got to stand up a little more," he said. "You have to take a few more chances. On the serve, you can look to put a little more slice on, because the grass will take that slice and really helps your serve a little bit."
Watching Isner become famous overnight, Querrey is working on getting his own slice of fame. Privacy is nice, but …
"I'd rather have what Roger has, where he can't walk around. I'd switch places with him in a second," Querrey joked. "I hope I get to the point where it's difficult to leave the house."
Kamakshi Tandon is a freelance tennis writer for ESPN.com.
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