Dan Farrugia, aCornell student majoring in industrial and labor relations, aspires to a careerin sports law. So as he finished his junior year, he appealed to his buddy SamQuerrey for a summer internship, figuring it would be more germane to hisfuture profession than lifeguarding or scooping ice cream. Would Querrey, arising player on the ATP Tour, want to hire an aide-de-camp to do everythingfrom arranging his travel to running his blog? "Sam said 'Sure' and offeredme a salary of three percent of his prize money," says Farrugia, 20. "Iwould have done it for free, just for the chance to see sports from theinside."
Apart from beingone of the coolest summer jobs on record, Farrugia's gig has been prettylucrative. Querrey is emerging as the answer to the eternal tennis query, Whowill be the next U.S. star? Through Sunday the 6'6" Californian had gone16--5 in matches since Wimbledon, winning a title in Los Angeles and reachingthe finals in Newport, R.I., and Indianapolis. After upsetting Andy Roddicklast week to reach the fourth round in Cincinnati (where he lost to LleytonHewitt), Querrey, 21, attained a career-high ranking of 26 and was in aposition to win the summer U.S. Open Series with a good showing at this week'stournament in New Haven, Conn. Plus, since Wimbledon, he has won nearly$235,250. (Intern's take: $7,057.50.) Coincidence? "It's been great to havesomeone do the dirty work—getting rackets strung, making reservations—but it'sreally been great just having someone to hang out with," Querrey says."It's definitely working out for both of us."
Querrey's summerbreakthrough wasn't altogether unexpected, armed as he is with a serve thatregularly surpasses 125 mph and a weapons-caliber forehand. But he's alsoimproved his fitness and conditioning, and as a result he plays more patientlyand uses his power more judiciously. "He's not playing himself out ofpoints quite as much," says Roddick. "He's got a better sense of whento pull the trigger."
As Querrey hasclimbed the charts, he's also spawned the sport's loudest cheering section. Oneof Farrugia's duties at tournaments is to organize the Samurai, a band of fansdressed in Karate Kid outfits who cheer and chant and bang gongs duringQuerrey's matches, straddling the line between spirited and obnoxious. At theIndy event, five members painted their chests to read GO SAM but at one pointrearranged themselves to spell MO GAS.
August 30, 2009
The Samurai will beheard from at the U.S. Open, where Querrey will be seeded for the first time.As for Farrugia, he plans to extend his internship through the fall and finishcollege in the spring. He'll accompany Querrey to Bangkok, Beijing and severalEuropean cities on the fall circuit. Says Querrey, "I'm playing too well tocut him loose now."
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Add an ability to self-correct to Roger Federer's manyskills. Having won no tournament in 2009 before Madrid in mid-May, he has takenfour of his last five events and is a prohibitive favorite to win his sixthstraight U.S. Open. If anyone can take him down, my pick is Andy Murray, whohas beaten Federer in four of their last five matches. Rafael Nadal is also athreat, of course, as are Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martín delPotro.
Serena Williams (below) has won two tournaments thisyear: the Australian Open and Wimbledon. It says here that she wins majornumber three in New York City. But keep an eye on Elena Dementieva and 2005U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters.