Who is Sam Querrey? What You Need to Know About the American U.S. Open Contender

1:44 | Tennis
U.S. Open: Roger Federer's Back Will Be Deciding Factor
Tuesday September 5th, 2017

Waiting for an American man to win a Grand Slam title, something that hasn’t happened since 2003, might feel like a useless exercise considering the near–unbreakable grip of the Big Four on men’s tennis. But Sam Querrey, a 29-year-old tour veteran from California, has a surprisingly good chance to end that drought this week at the U.S. Open.

Other American men, like John Isner and Jack Sock, have received more attention over the years. Even after Querrey stunned then-invincible Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2016, he wouldn’t have been your first choice to break the dry spell. Even after reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon this year, Querrey was considered a serious contender to actually win a major. But a little luck in the draw and some excellent tennis have changed everything.

Querrey’s win over Mischa Zverev on Sunday, which ensured he would be the top-ranked American male after the U.S. Open, sent him to the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows for the first time. Previously, he had only been to the fourth round twice and not since 2010. Querrey is hardly a favorite to win the tournament—Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal still hold that position—but he has a winnable matchup against Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals and a possible semifinal meeting against Pablo Carreno Busta, who would not be a clear favorite against the American.

Tennis
Rafael Nadal and Uncle Toni, One Last Time Together at the U.S. Open

Querrey even reaching the final, much less winning the tournament, is far from certainty. But improbably, he’s in excellent position to win a major. As Querrey looks to become the first American man to reach a U.S. Open semifinal since 2006, here’s what you need to know about him:

He used to make weird Vines starring himself

This is by far the most important Sam Querrey Fact™. Every American should be aware that the man who might reach the U.S. Open semifinals used to make videos like this:

So here’s the story: Querrey appeared on the Bravo show Millionaire Matchmaker, which in itself is absurd. The show consists of Patti Stanger setting up millionaires with other millionaires on dates.

"The date was fun, the girl I chose was really cool. At the end of the episode it said we're still together, but actually she never talked to me once after the show was shot," Querrey told the Desert Sun. ”I was sort of peer-pressured into doing it, and I was nervous before it came out because I thought it would be embarrassing, but it wasn't that bad.”

Apparently he created the videos in order to celebrate his looming appearance on the show. Your guess is as good as mine.

His serve is his biggest weapon

Querrey’s serve is a cannon, and it gives him a shot to beat anybody on a given day. In 2007, he aced James Blake 10 straight times, still a record. Mischa Zverev had no answer for Querrey’s power during Sunday’s fourth–round match, and it wasn’t just the serve: The American racked up 18 aces and 55 winners in one of the most impressive performances of his career.

He beat Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2016

Only the White House rivals the tennis world for its massive swing in conventional wisdom dating back to last summer. More unfathomable than Donald Trump winning the presidency was Novak Djokovic losing at a Grand Slam to, well, anybody. Especially someone like Sam Querrey. Djokovic had won 30 consecutive Slam matches, the best mark in nearly 50 years. The American entered his third-round match against the world No. 1, who at the time held all four major titles, as a significant underdog. But the match, suspended on one day because of rain and interrupted three times the following day for weather delays, ended in a 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) Querrey triumph.

Querrey fell in the quarterfinals to eventual finalist Milos Raonic, but beating Djokovic clearly marked a turning point in the American’s career.

Tennis
How Sloane Stephens's Tennis Channel Gig Helped her During Injury Recovery

He made the Wimbledon semifinals this year

What’s remarkable about Querrey’s 2017 U.S. Open run is that it isn’t a one-off: He’s coming off a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon—the first major semifinals of his career. Querrey came up short in the semifinal, falling in four sets to Marin Cilic. But on his way to the semis, Querrey beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kevin Anderson and Andy Murray, all in five sets. Murray was hobbled in the quarterfinal, but the fact that Querrey knocked out the defending champion and home favorite on Centre Court is quite a feat.

Querrey is going to be America's top-ranked man

No matter what happens the rest of the U.S. Open, Querrey will leave Flushing Meadows with a new title: the top-ranked American man. Querrey entered the tournament ranked No. 21, behind both John Isner (No. 15) and Jack Sock (No. 16). But after a strong summer that saw him reach the Wimbledon semifinals and win a title in Los Cobos, Querrey will be justly rewarded in the rankings.  

He's a solid doubles player

Querrey has undoubtedly become a much better singles player over the last year or two, but he's also been a decent doubles player for a while. His doubles ranking reached a career-high of No. 23 in 2010, and he's won five titles. He and compatriot Steve Johnson reached the U.S. Open semifinals in 2015. He was a runner-up in mixed doubles in Flushing the same year, partnering with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. 

His triumph over Rafael Nadal at Acapulco 2017 could be prescient

If Querrey reaches the U.S. Open final and faces Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, he’ll be a clear underdog. But the American actually beat Rafael Nadal in a tournament final earlier this year, in Acapulco.

OK, so that was just best-of-three. It goes without saying that best-of-five at a major is an entirely different challenge. But undoubtedly Querrey’s Acapulco title—one of seven career singles titles for the American—will give him a serious confidence boost entering the final stretch of the U.S. Open, particularly against top players. If Querrey can build on his performance against Zverev, there's no reason to doubt his status as a serious title contender. 

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.