Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Querrey stuns Djokovic at Wimbledon

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM
American Sam Querrey celebrates after beating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's singles match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London yesterday.


Facing yet another critical point during a match he never controlled, Novak Djokovic stretched for a half-volley drop winner, held up his right index finger - reminding the world, "I'm No. 1!" - then threw an uppercut and bellowed.

Perhaps this was the moment everyone kept expecting, as he tried to dig himself out of a daunting deficit against 41st-ranked Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon. Perhaps this was a sign that Djokovic was rediscovering the consistency, efficiency and excellence he maintained for more than a year on tennis' most important stages.

Djokovic had won 30 consecutive Grand Slam matches, carrying him to four consecutive Grand Slam titles, the longest such run by a man in nearly a half-century. .

Now his magical streaks are gone, including two successive titles at the All England Club and 28 Grand Slam quarter-final appearances in a row, all brought to a sudden, stunning end by a player who has never participated in a major quarter-final. With 31 aces against as good a returner as there is, Querrey did what no one else could for so long, beating Djokovic 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in a match interrupted yesterday by three rain delays after being suspended in progress because of showers a night earlier.

"He just overpowered me," was Djokovic's simple assessment.

Djokovic was stopped halfway to the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver's in 1969.

"I believe in positive things in life, and I managed to win four Grand Slams in a row two different seasons, though. I want to try to focus on that," Djokovic said, "rather than failure."

His last loss at any major came against Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final in June 2015. Since then, Djokovic won Wimbledon last July, the US Open in September, the Australian Open in January, and the French Open last month, raising his Slam total to 12.

Only Laver, in 1962 and 1969, and Don Budge, in 1938, won all four major championships in one year.

Things certainly looked bleak for Djokovic when he dropped the first two sets Friday against Querrey, the first American in 14 years to beat a man ranked No. 1 at a major.

In the closing tiebreaker, Djokovic led 3-1, but Querrey hung in there, and a stray forehand by the big favourite sailed wide to end it.

Querrey, who plays France's Nicolas Mahut next, leaped in the air.

There were plenty of results yesterday as the rainy tournament cleared a backlog of matches and finally closed the second round. Two-time champion Petra Kvitova lost to Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 7-6 (5), while seeded women Sloane Stephens and Timea Bacsinszky made it to the third round, as did No. 24 Alexander Zverev in the men's field. No. 2 Andy Murray, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, and Querrey's fellow American and doubles partner Steve Johnson.