Sam Querrey is heading for Eastbourne and, as the luck of the draw would have it, a first-round meeting with Andy Roddick next week after his Queen’s Club odyssey was blown away in the wind by Marin Cilic.
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Cilic, a Croat who can look Querrey directly in the eye from his 6-foot-6 height, captured their Saturday semifinal in the Aegon Championships, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 after the American had lost an early advantage in the third set.
“He came up with two great service returns off first serves,” Querrey said. “Too good. It was tough to play for both of us in that wind, but this has been a great week for me, reaching my first semi for over a year, and I’ll go down to Eastbourne having had good preparation for the wind because it can blow down there, too.”
The match had a strange start: The third game lasted 19 minutes, in which time Querrey had no less than nine break points on the Cilic serve. It was obviously dispiriting for Querrey to miss all those chances, and it came as no surprise when the Croat took charge of the set.
Big, consistent serving offered Querrey a platform to get back into the match, but when he gave away his break in the third with a double fault, the pendulum swung back to Cilic, who seemed quite happy to engage the American in long baseline rallies. It was a strange sight to see rallies of 22 and 24 strokes developing on a grass court — it was an unthinkable occurrence when John McEnroe was winning here — but that is the nature of the modern game.
“With the wind, you can’t look for the line,” Cilic said. “And you’re trying to play a little bit safer, just not trying to miss, I think.”
Cilic, who was in the final at Munich on clay last month, did not miss much at the end Saturday, and although Querrey broke back for 3-4, some more good returns tore the serve out of his hands and the Croat made no mistake serving out at 5-3.
Looking ahead, even though Roddick has not been at his best of late, Querrey would have preferred to play someone else at Eastbourne. But his performance this week has improved Querrey’s confidence, and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think I am 2-4 in career meetings with him and I don’t think we have played on grass before,” he said. “It should be fun.”
Cilic, meanwhile, is looking ahead to Sunday’s final in the Aegon Championships, where he will play veteran Argentine David Nalbandian.
Despite having played six sets in two matches the previous day because rain had backed up the schedule, Nalbandian, 30, was still sprightly enough to outmaneuver Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 in the second semifinal.
It was the first ATP semifinal of the 21-year-old Bulgarian’s career and, although he battled hard to stay in the match — breaking back in both sets — Nalbandian made sure he did most of the running. Grigor did some falling, too, as he hurled himself about on the slippery grass.
“But it was fun,” he said. “I’ll put it down to experience.”