It was little more than a year ago that Sam Querrey suffered the arm injury that sent him plummeting out of the world’s top 20.
Having clawed his way back from No. 120 to his current No. 77 in the ATP rankings, Querrey took another step in the right direction in the Aegon Championships on Thursday by reaching his second quarterfinal of the year, with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Julien Benneteau.
While Querrey was producing a performance that reminded observers of the way he won this title two years ago, the tournament took another hit when No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-5 to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig. Unhappily for the big Frenchman defeat was not all he had to worry about. He slipped and fell in the sixth game of the third set and badly damaged a finger.
“I think it’s serious” he said. “I felt like something is broken or I stretched the ligament.”
Tsonga, who had four match points on Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last week, might struggle to be fit for Wimbledon.
“We will have an exam,” Tsonga said. “I don’t know about Wimbledon.”
By contrast, Querrey was upbeat.
“I feel like right now this is my time where I can make my jump back and get into the top 50 and then from there move forward," he said. "It’s been really tough. It takes a while. You can’t just have one good week and jump straight back into the top 20. Sometimes it could take a year.
"I know it’s on a different scale, but Maria Sharapova — it took her four years to get back to No. 1. I’ve just got to stay positive and keep working.”
Querrey said how much he enjoyed playing in front of the sellout crowds at the Queen’s Club.
“I love this tournament — always fun to play,” he said. “They’ve got sold-out crowds Monday through Sunday on every court, which is pretty rare.”
The 6-foot-6 American played Benneteau on Court One and was vociferously supported by a typically up-market Queen’s Club member named Tom Pugh, who is a good rackets player and used to captain the Gloucestershire County Cricket team.
“Well played, Samuel!” Pugh bellowed with vowels acquired at Eton. “Serve up, serve up!”
Pugh revealed that "Serve up" was a cry used by spectators during rackets (a faster form of squash).
“So I thought I try it at a tennis match,” said Pugh.
Querrey, who might not have been called Samuel too often, didn’t seem to mind at all and served up very well, producing four first serves to close out the match to love.