Sam Querrey needed win over Raonic
WIMBLEDON, England -- A year ago, Sam Querrey was convalescing at home in Las Vegas when his tennis peers converged on the All England Club.
He had established himself in the top 20 earlier that season and -- even after surgery on his aching right elbow -- he figured it wouldn't be long before he was back.
Watch Out For Goff
He captured the hearts of tennis fans with his flair and well-rounded game, and he even took a set off Roger Federer at the French Open, all the while backed by loud Belgian fans. He became the first lucky loser in 17 years to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam.
Now David Goffin, the baby-faced 21-year-old, looks to build on the momentum when he faces 10th-seeded Mardy Fish in the third round at Wimbledon on Saturday.
Fish, back from a heart scare, but hampered by a slight arm injury and tummy troubles this week, needed five sets to dispose of British wild card James Ward on Thursday while Goffin had an easier time against Fish's countryman, Jesse Levine.
"It's him who is the favorite," Goffin, a Liege, Belgium, resident, said. "We have seen that he's very solid mentally, he serves well, he's very offensive, he plays well on grass. I feel better physically, maybe, than him. I know he's had some physical problems, and I think he's very happy to be back on the court now. I think he'll give it his all to win the third round."
Goffin's surge in Paris bumped his ranking from 109th to 64th the week after the French, enough to land him a spot in the Olympics when the cut-off filtered below the official 56. Interest in Goffin has spiked, too.
"In Belgium the attention has been superb," he said. "Everyone in my city congratulated me. It was really nice. But now Roland Garros is behind me, and I must really focus on Wimbledon. From Roland Garros, though, I took the confidence."
What does Fish know about Goffin? Not much.
"I heard about him [from] Paris, but I didn't see him play at all," Fish said.
"You know, go deep in a couple of tournaments and my ranking will move back quickly," Querrey said Friday. "It's just not the case, as I think most people would learn with an injury. It can take a year or even longer for people to get back where they were."
It didn't happen that way. In fact, it didn't happen at all.
After missing three months, Querrey found himself ranked at No. 125 after he missed both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. In 2012, he has been climbing ever so slowly, cracking the top 100 with a win in the Sarasota, Fla., Challenger.
On Friday, the 24-year-old took the leap he's been looking forward to for a full year. He dazzled No. 21 seed Milos Raonic -- seen by many as the next big thing --- 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (8), 6-4.
Querrey, who usually plays in the leisurely, dispassionate manner of a man walking his dog, was amped after he won the match on Court No. 1 with an ace down the middle.
"Kind of let it out there a little bit at the end," Querrey said. "Lately, I feel like I have been a little more vocal, little more showing that I just want it because it's been a year. This is definitely my biggest win in a long time. It was a big moment, a big court, and it feels great."
Oddly enough, both players won 153 points. But Querrey fashioned two breaks, to just one for Raonic. As expected, the two giants (Querrey is 6-foor-6 and Raonic an inch shorter) hit a combined 46 aces. But Raonic, who had 25 of them and leads all ATP players in aces this year, was effectively stymied by Querrey's return.
"I went out there expecting to get aced 30 times," Querrey said. "Just tried to stay positive. I feel like I do a decent job of returning the serve. I have a big wingspan, so it's not horrible for me."
The difference for Querrey these days is an aggressive attitude. In the early stages of his comeback, he didn't go after his serve because "I knew what that pain felt like." Once he survived the first serve against the 21-year-old Canadian, Querrey was content to keep the ball in play until he could find some semblance of an opening.
This is the kind of mindset he will take into Saturday's third-round match with No. 16 seed Marin Cilic. They have met twice before -- both times on British grass -- and both matches went to the limit; Cilic won in five sets here three years ago and again two weeks ago in a three-set match at Queen's Club.
Querrey is ranked No. 64 and, appropriately, has pulled himself back even with a 13-13 record this year. He can equal his best performance in a Slam by beating Cilic and advancing to the second week. It would also vault him back into the top 50. "No one wants to see Cilic in his draw," Querrey said. "I'm going to try to be a little more aggressive than usual."
Young Americans Sloane Stephens and Christina McHale have been rolling through the early stages of the Euro Slams. They won five matches between them in Paris and were 4-for-4 here before running into some heavy German artillery Friday.
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Stephens, a19-year-old Floridian, had already beaten Lisicki last year, on clay. The youngest teenager in the WTA's top 100 probably should have beaten the German here. Stephens likely will agonize over the memory of leading Lisicki 5-2 in the first-set tiebreaker -- and then losing the last five points. She considered smashing her racket when a forehand service return sailed long but checked her swing on the baseline.
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