Monday, October 13, 2014

Querrey completes NorCal Challenger sweep

Sam Querrey, shown earlier in the week, defeated John
Millman 6-4, 6-2 to win the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Sam Querrey Show ended Sunday after a three-week engagement.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) U.S. Davis Cup veteran completed a sweep of Northern California Challengers with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over John Millman of Australia at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Querrey extended winning streaks of 17 matches overall, including two Davis Cup triumphs against Slovakia in Chicago, and 20 in Challengers, including the Sarasota title on clay in April 2012.
   He will return to the ATP World Tour, the major leagues of men's tennis, next week on indoor hardcourts in Valencia, Spain.
   By winning the $50,000 Napa and $100,000 Sacramento and Tiburon Challengers, Querrey improved his world ranking from No. 54 to No. 40.
   Querrey must raise his ranking another eight spots or so to be seeded for next year's first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open in January.
   It isn't a matter of ego. By being seeded, Querrey would avoid the possibility of facing another seed -- perhaps Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray -- in at least the first two rounds.
   The top-seeded Querrey lost only two sets during his NorCal sweep, to 18-year-old Elias Ymer of Sweden in the second round at Napa and to Millman in the Sacramento semifinals, and did not face a seed in Sacramento or Tiburon.
   Querrey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, was born across the bay from Tiburon in San Francisco. He has battled injuries since reaching a career high of No. 17 in 2011.
   After defeating countryman Tim Smyczek for the Napa crown, Querrey explained why he chose to play in the NorCal Challengers rather than in Asia on the ATP tour.
  "I was (going to be) in the qualifying of Tokyo and Shanghai, not in the main draw," said Querrey, a Las Vegas resident who has won seven ATP and seven Challenger singles titles. "I don't have a coach right now. David Nainkin and I (parted) ways earlier in the year. I didn't want to go all the way over there by myself.
   "I just knew that wasn't going to be the right decision for me. I'm comfortable here, there are some USTA coaches here, I've got family and friends here, and it just seemed like a better fit for me."     
    Players ranked 11 to 50 can enter a Challenger, comparable to Triple A in baseball, only via a wild card, said USTA supervisor Keith Crossland. Top-10 players are prohibited from entering Challengers, he added.
   The unseeded Millman was seeking his fourth Challenger singles title, including Sacramento in 2010. He climbed to a career-high No. 126 in April last year but tore cartilage in his right (playing) shoulder the following month, underwent surgery in July and missed 11 months in all.
   Ranked No. 591 going into the Napa Challenger, Millman improved to No. 285 after his performance in Tiburon.
   Querrey is not the only Tiburon champion with ties to the San Francisco Bay Area. Second-seeded Bradley Klahn, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate, and Adil Shamasdin of Canada beat unseeded Carsten Ball and Matt Reid of Australia 7-5, 6-2 in the doubles final.
   Note: An in-depth profile of the popular Millman, who has had an eventful career, will be posted in the next few weeks.

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