Querrey Choke Leaves Murray, Brits on the Verge of Davis Cup Victory
by Jeremy Davis | February 1st, 2014, 10:04 am

In his seven-year career, Brit James Ward has not been able to gain entry to one Grand Slam main draw — save for the handful of Wimbledon wildcards he has received. He is a career Challenger-level player, banished to the lower levels of professional tennis due to a shaky forehand and an inability to cross the finish line in big matches.
But that was all forgotten on Friday when Ward handed American Sam Querrey the biggest loss of his career, a loss that only in January will stick with him confidence-wise throughout 2014.

Querrey, who has taken a set off Rafael Nadal on clay in Davis Cup play (in Spain!), folded like a lawn chair on Friday in the second singles match against Britain 1-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Querrey led two sets to one and a break in the fourth and the match looked to be over. Until Querrey realized the situation.

This was supposed to be a U.S. vs. Britain meeting that was destined to be decided in the fifth rubber. It was simple math. Murray and Querrey would win on day one, the Bryans on day two, Murray would beat Querrey in the first Sunday match, evening the meet at 2-2, then it would come down to a hairy free-for-all in the decider with green American Donald Young against Ward. But Querrey blew the scenario.

“Yeah, a little bummed I couldn’t help the team out,” Querrey said in traditional understatement.

In the opener Andy Murray absolutely blew out the overmatched, deer-in-the-headlights Donald Young, allowing the American only six games. Then it was Querrey’s turn.

Querrey had lost to Ward in their only previous meeting, but that was on grass and this was on clay, a surface foreign to Ward and somewhat comforting to Querrey. Clay allows Querrey extra time to set up the big forehand.

But you have to be fit to play on clay, mentally and physically, and Querrey could not close the door on his lead. Serving at 4-3, leading two sets to one, Querrey loses eight straight games, suddenly looking sluggish and, probably due more to nerves than the physicality of the moment, could barely maintain his balance much less step into the court and crunch balls. His groundstrokes all landed short, the sign of a nervous player not generating enough racquet-head speed or getting his footwork in place.

“As the match goes on you start to see a little bit of his patterns and he starts to get a little bit more tired,” Ward said of his comeback. “I think everything plays a part. And the pressure. He’s got to close out a match that’s difficult for him. They’re one (match) down, and he’s expected to beat me — on paper.”

The Bryan brothers will likely get the job done for the U.S. on Saturday, with or without Murray on the court. So Sunday will come down to a brutal staging for Querrey in a must-win match against Murray.

More than a loss to the Slam champ Murray, the match will be for a Querrey a reminder of what could have been against the lesser-ranked Ward — especially when the Brit team swarms the court and Murray to celebrate what would be a first win over the U.S. in almost 80 years. This will be a tough one for the big American to put behind him.

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29 Comments for Querrey Choke Leaves Murray, Brits on the Verge of Davis Cup Victory

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Most likely: USA, Spain, Serbia, Canada out!!! A boulevard for Switzerland :-)

Giles Says:

France will win the Davis Cup this year IMO.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

@Giles: A final France Switzerland is definitely on the radar! That would be awesome :-)

Giles Says:

@GG. Do you know who will be hosting if that happens?

Hippy Chic Says:

Well done James Ward he went for it,gave it his all and didnt let his head drop when going two sets to one down,all i suppose with much help from a choking Sam,still the underdog had nothing to lose so all credit to him,i hope Murray can finish the job now tomorrow.

Nick Says:

Giles – a France/Switzerland final would be in France. However, recent history between these two teams favours the away team. They’ve met four times in the past 22 yrs (all qtr finals in 1992, 2001, 2003 & 2004) and the away team has won by the same 3-2 margin each time.

GB also have a great incentive to complete a win over the US as they would likely have three home ties if they progress – Argentina (qf), Switzerland (sf) and France (final).

the DA Says:

@ Nick – Argentina need to win first. They’re about to go down 1-2. My hope is that Argentina wins because if Italy win it’ll be on clay.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

So, we are set up for a France – Switzerland at Roland-Garros in November 2014 :-))) That will be so cool!!!

Nick Says:

Gregoire – would they play outdoors in November?

Nick Says:

Or have they installed the new roof?

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Roof and heater! haha. As I wrote on a tennis French blog, there will be a few “flocons de neige” (=snow) during the rubber !

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Note that the final of the 2005 women fed cup was on the Philippe Chatrier court. It was end of September and the last match almost finished during early night.

thomas Says:

The US needs their players to get more mentally tough, this is starting to become a pattern for them.

Why doesn’t Jim get in their face more, thats what they need, a good ole fashion kick in the pants.

metan Says:

Bye bye USA and welcome JAPAN to QF !!!

Margot Says:

Well, Sam has beaten Andy in the past, so no-body should be counting chickens. However,

Nick Says:

Thomas – isn’t part of the problem that over the past 10-15 years the US’s male players have all been pretty one dimensional, ie. big serve/maybe a big forehand and no plan b when this doesn’t work? In addition they all seem to be really big guys and not the best movers on court. The US always used to provide players who offered variety as well as athleticism but, for the moment at least, the well seems to have dried up.

Nick Says:

Gregoire – “flocons de neige” to make the Swiss feel at home………the French are generous hosts!!

tennisfansince 76 Says:

I’m going to bet that most of the Americans that fall into the 6´0 to 6´5 sweetspot along with being excellent movers end up playing basketball and/or football.

courbon Says:

@ tennisfansince76: I think you are 100% right.
But what is the reason that American tennis is in a slump for last 15 years?Did Sampras and Aggasi did not inspired enough kids, or lack of tennis facilitis or bad Tennis Asocciation?Or combination of all three and also kids rather playing games at home?I’m curious.You are American right?Maybe you can shed some light on that issue?
For example, I moved year ago in South West France in the heart of countryside.And I was schocked to see tennis courts everywhere.Almost every village ( and I’m talking of small villages,100-200 habitants) has a tennis court.They are not full but if kid from a village plays tennis in club, one of local towns ( like my daughter ) we use the tennis court in a village as extra practise.This is apparently legacy of big investment in 80’s.So lots of people play tennis, of all classes.I know the French don’t have a big Grand Slam Champion but tennis is very alive here.

coke man G Says:

Tennis barely gets any sports network coverage here. The us doesnt like watching any sports in which their countrymen arent top dog. Kids grow up seeing and idolizing football, basketball, and baseball. Theres more money to be made in those sports for networks. Its always about money over here. No clay or grass courts. It ll be a while before us is on top in tennis again.

Colin Says:

Coke man, it’s not so different in Britain. Young boys dream of being millionaire soccer players. Apart from that, it’s not easy to run school tennis, because only a few kids can be on court at any one time, and the rest will be getting bored. In soccer or rugby, with a little flexibility regarding the rules, you can have a whole class on the field all afternoon.

Great result in Davis Cup. Last time GB beat USA, I was seven months old.
“Hey, Mum, ” I said, we just beat America in tennis”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“I just seen it on the telly, ” I replied.
“Telly?” she said, “What’s that?”

Margot Says:

Thrilled for Andy and the team. Another ghost laid to rest!
In 3rd and 4th Andy certainly turned on his silky skills. Fabulous to see.

Polo Says:

Athletic kids in the US would not gravitate towards tennis because it is a wimpy sport where wimpiness is encouraged by the officials. Just look at all those medical time outs for every little thing. And all those time violations because they like to take their slow sweet time like demure ladies.

Nick Says:

Polo – and yet they play american football which is rugby for wimps and baseball which is essentially cricket for wimps, so that can’t be the problem.

the DA Says:

That was special. Some of Andy’s improvisations were stunning. And that drop shot winner off a serve? haha Not sure he would have made it if it had gone into a 5th. Sam redeemed himself with this match. He can walk away with his head held high. Now the real clay courters will be waiting in April. Ugh, that will be more than a challenging prospect.

RZ Says:

I was there for day 1 and day 2 of USA vs. GB. Donald Young’s result looks really bad on paper, and he was completely over-matched, but he did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in play and trying to to make something work. Querrey completely choked in his match. Ward did pick up his game in set two, and did a great job returning Sam’s serves – the faster Sam served, the better Ward returned it. Ward really had no business wining the 4th set, but once he did, he ran off with the 5th. He played smart tennis, drop shotting Sam.

Very excited that Team GB moves on to the quarterfinals!!

Margot Says:

@the DA
It’s just wonderful to see him relaxed and playing so freely and trying those cheeky shots :) There was one terrific rally which ended with a magic lob and a volley from Andy. So good.
Lucky you RZ and you have broken your camping jinx ;)
Not weather for camping here in UK though. Wettest Winter for 100 years.

Steve27 Says:

if they coincided in time Andy and Tim, the British team would be unbeatable on grass!

RZ Says:

@Margot – very true! No more need to go into hiding to see Andy win important matches, or perhaps it means that I need to go watch him play live at the big tournaments. :-)

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