Winston-Salem Open

Tennis' Sam Querrey making up for time lost to injury

U.S. tennis pro continues climb after 2011 elbow injury

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comAugust 22, 2012 

— The Winston-Salem Open is American Sam Querrey’s fifth straight tennis tournament leading up to the U.S. Open. Many of his fellow pros would consider that scheduling suicide.

On the other hand, not many fellow pros came within a millimeter of never playing again. That’s what happened in 2009, so Querrey figures every day he gets to keep playing is a bonus.

Querrey sat on a glass table during a tournament in Thailand. The table collapsed, sending shards of glass through his body. Surgeons told him that had one shard come a millimeter closer to a major nerve in his right (playing) arm, the damage would have been career-ending.

Two years later, Querrey felt a sharp pain in his right elbow as he took a swing at Queens in London, the Wimbledon warm-up tournament. The diagnosis: Querrey had ripped loose bone fragments and cartilage that required surgery and two months of recovery.

So, yes, he considers this summer making up for lost time and he has been most productive. By beating Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 Wednesday, Querrey has reached his third quarterfinal or better within a five-week span. He has a 19-7 record since the start of the grass-court season, pushing his world ranking to 28th.

“Last year I missed the entire summer,” said Querrey. “My body still feels fine and I’m motivated. Why go home and practice?”

Querrey, who will turn 25 in October, says he’s feeling so right now because of what he went through before.

He has hired a full-time chiropractor/physiologist to travel the circuit with him. He gets acupuncture treatments frequently and does what he calls “pre-hab” – a series of exercises with bands, primarily intended to keep his shoulder strong and reduce wear on the rest of his playing arm.

“My elbow always kind of hurt a bit,” he recalled. “If it didn’t happen at Queens, it probably would have happened sooner or later, so it’s good I learned from it.”

Querrey and Greensboro’s John Isner figure to carry U.S. tennis the next few years. Querrey loves this time of year, when all the little things work in his favor.

“Most of the time you’re on center court with the crowd behind you,” Querrey said.

Notes

• Fifth-seeded Andy Roddick never lost his serve, but he did briefly lose his cool and eventually the match.

Roddick lost two tiebreakers to Belgium’s Steve Darcis to become the top player not to reach the quarterfinals. Roddick slammed a racquet to the court during the 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) loss, and never quite got his act together against a player ranked 60 spots below him.

“I needed to put more pressure on his service games,” said Roddick, who reached the semifinals last year. “If I don’t have my serve broken, I should be fine.”

• A late-afternoon storm interrupted play before top seeds Jo-Wilifried Tsonga and Berdych closed out their matches. Tsonga beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (1), 6-4. Berdych beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-2.

Greensboro’s John Isner also made it through to the quarterfinals, slamming 14 aces while ousting Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3.

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