Sam Querrey doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but he knows that a golden opportunity has presented itself at the Winston-Salem Open.
With the withdrawals of John Isner and Tomas Berdych, the 25-year-old Californian has an inviting path through his half of the draw … if he can regain some confidence that has been lacking lately.
He took a step in the right direction on Monday night by pulling out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 second-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the feature evening match on Center Court.
Querrey, ranked No. 29 in the latest ATP World Tour rankings and the No. 6 seed in this tournament, joins No. 5 seed Benoit Paire as the highest-seeded players remaining in their bracket.
"Definitely, that side of the draw you can say is open," Querrey said. "You know that two big kinda power guys are out. So you want to take it one match at a time, but it’s hard not to know that in the back of my mind that, ‘Hey, I’ve got a good opportunity here.’
"I’ve lost a lot lately, so I’m literally just going one match at a time and if I can win another one that’s great, and another one, that’s great. I don’t want to look too far ahead. But I think if I do the right things and play well, I think I can make the final."
The win moved Querrey into third-round action on Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday’s match between No. 11 seed Jarkko Nieminen and Mardy Fish.
The win was also just the second of the hard court season for Querrey. He won one match in Washington three weeks ago, but lost in the first round at Cincinnati last week and didn’t play in Montreal. It hasn’t helped any that one of his favorite tournaments, Los Angeles – where he has won three titles – is no longer on the ATP World Tour summer hard court calendar.
"It’s been tough," he said. "It all started with the grass court season. I had an early exit at Queen and the first round at Wimbledon. In the past I have done well in those events and it has springboarded me to a good summer. The LA tournament is gone and I always got off to a good start there. So, you know, it’s been a little tough. Sometimes you get in a little slump. I’m hoping this week I can get out of it and then go into the Open feeling better than I’ve felt all summer."
Querrey was clearly frustrated early in his match against Garcia-Lopez, a 30-year-old Spaniard who came into the match ranked No. 73 in the world.
But Querrey adjusted in the second set, relying on a succession of drop shots that turned the match around. Garcia-Lopez also helped Querrey’s cause by double-faulting eight times and serving at just 47 percent.
"I was just lacking a little confidence in my forehand, getting it through the court, so I had to go to my finesse game," Querrey said. "It seemed to work most of the time. Except for once, I think it worked every time. He seemed to be dropping far back, and that was leaving it open."
All in all, he was pleased with his performance.
"I haven’t won a ton of matches lately, so I am just lacking a bit of match confidence, and I didn’t feel great," he said. "But I thought I competed really well and didn’t let the bad things get me down too much, and kinda stuck with it and just kinda dug out a win there. It wasn’t the prettiest thing and he gave me a couple of freebies at the end, but I’ll take it. I need it right now, and I hope I can get through another one."