By John Delong, Winston-Salem Open
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Sam Querrey has been fighting back problems for the past four weeks, but he’s finally starting to feel some improvement. It showed on Tuesday evening in the second round at the Winston-Salem Open, as the 28-year-old Californian dug deep and rallied from a break down in the third set for a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
It was Querrey’s first match win since he was forced to retire in his second-round match against David Goffin in Toronto four weeks ago, and it brought a smile of relief afterward.
“It’s been a tough summer,” Querrey said. “I’ve had a few back injuries, haven’t played a ton of matches coming in. So to get through a match like that where I didn’t play my best but was really resilient and found a way to win, I’m trying to take the positives in it and move on to the next round.”
Querrey, the tournament’s sixth seed and currently ranked No. 31, will face ninth-seeded Viktor Troicki in Wednesday’s third round.
Querrey had lost in the first round of his previous two tournaments, falling to Pablo Cuevas in the first round at Cincinnati last week and losing to Santiago Giraldo in the first round at Las Cabos before that. This all after he had stunned the tennis world in July by beating Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon and advancing all the way to the quarterfinals.
The back issues, he said, are finally starting to go away.
“It’s been tough the last month, but I’ve got the right medicine now, got the stretching routine down, so hopefully it’ll be OK the rest of the year,” he said.
Querrey won the first set routinely against Garcia-Lopez, a player he had beaten in four of their previous five matches.
But things got crazy in the second set tie-break, as Querrey lost four points on his own serve. Garcia-Lopez wound up claiming the tie-break despite double-faulting twice himself.
“Usually when I win three points on the other guy’s serve, I’m going to win the breaker,” Querrey said. “I just, I don’t know what happened. Maybe I let my energy drop a little, didn’t make as many first serves as I wanted, got a little sloppy. So I’m just going to try to learn from that and not make those mistakes if I play more tiebreakers going forward.”
Querrey was then broken in the first game of the third set, but quickly broke back and then finally got the second break he needed in the final game.
“The way I played the (second set) breaker definitely carried over to the first game of the third set,” Querrey said. “Fortunately I got the break right back and got back on track, and the rest of the way I felt I was going to win the match.”
Querrey downplayed any urgency to regain his momentum with a deep run here this week. He has advanced to the WSO semifinals in three of the last four years.
“There’s no urgency, really,” he said. “It’s been a solid year so far. I’m seeded at the Open next week. I don’t feel a ton of pressure. I’m just trying to feel good, just trying to play some good matches and get my game ready for next week.”
In other late-afternoon matches, 14th-seeded Marcos Baghdatis beat American Donald Young 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Cuevas, the third seed, beat Malek Jaziri 7-5, 6-1 and John Millman knocked off eighth-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.