In the hours after his stunning win against Novak Djokovic in the previous round, Sam Querrey watched every little rerun he could get his hands on, loving the moment.
Having never gone beyond round four of a grand slam event, he was eager to enjoy it and as he began his last-16 match here on Monday, the fear of a let-down was obvious. But the American is determined to extend his 15 minutes of fame and his 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win against Nicolas Mahut was an exercise in professionalism.
“I felt like I did great today,” said Querrey, the No28 seed who now plays the No6 seed Milos Raonic of Canada in his first grand slam quarter-final. “Nicolas is tough. I’ve lost to him the last two times I played him. I knew in my mind it was going to be a tough match, even though on paper, to the outsider [it would have been]: ‘Ooh, he beat Novak, this is going to be an easy one’. It was a match I wanted to win to make it to the quarter-finals. If I didn’t win, there would have been a lot of: ‘wow, it was kind of a fluky match against Novak because you didn’t back it up.’ I feel like I did a really good job of putting my head down and playing really well today.”
With his big serve and strong forehand, Querrey has been as high as No17 in the world and has earned more than $7m in prize money. But victories over the likes of Djokovic do not happen very often for players like him and he had no qualms in saying he’d enjoyed it as much as he could.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said. “After the Novak match, I watched every highlight I could over and over. Enjoyed the hell out of that moment. I’m just going to keep kind of enjoying myself, hang with my friends and family, practice tomorrow, get ready for the next match.”
Mahut was appearing in the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time and must have wondered what he had done to offend the organisers, who put the match on Court 18, where he lost that 11-hour, five-minute marathon against John Isner in 2010. The Frenchman is enjoying something of an Indian summer to his career and is a fine grass-court player but Querrey was too solid. Having taken the first set thanks to one break, he recovered from 3-1 down to win the second-set tiebreak and then eased through the third to advance to the last eight.
Should he get past Raonic, a man he leads 2-1 in completed matches, including a win here in 2012, then his parents, who missed his win over Mahut, are likely to return, having left after the Djokovic match. “They actually moved their flights back to watch the remainder of the Novak match,” he said. “My dad took the whole week off of work last week, and my mom, I don’t really have an excuse for her [smiling]. I think they would [come back if he makes the semi-finals], for sure. I don’t think they would hesitate to fly back for that.”
Raonic looked in trouble after he dropped the first two sets to Belgium’s David Goffin. But the big Canadian raised his game as the match wore on and Goffin, who had admitted to being exhausted after playing through the weekend because of rain, faded to give Raonic a 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win.
Roger Federer, meanwhile, crushed the American Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 to reach the last eight without dropping a set. The Swiss continues to insist he is not yet 100% after a recent back injury and knows that he is likely to face a much tougher test when he plays Marin Cilic. The Croat, who advanced when Kei Nishikori retired trailing 6-1, 6-1 because of a rib injury, beat Federer in the semi-finals of the US Open in 2014 on his way to his first grand slam title.
“He’s very aggressive,” Federer said. “He blew me off the court at the US Open [so] I know what I’m getting into. But I’m happy about my game as well, that I’ve been able to rise now to the occasion and play a really good match against Johnson today. I think it was by far my best match.”
The Frenchman Lucas Pouille edged out Bernard Tomic 10-8 in the final set to reach his first grand slam quarter-final, where he will play either the former runner-up Tomas Berdych or another Czech, Jiri Vesely.
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