Monday, September 4, 2017

High hopes: Querrey, Anderson to meet in U.S. Open

    Ten years ago, two towering prospects met for the first time in the opening round of the $75,000 Sacramento Challenger at the venerable Sutter Lawn Tennis Club.
   On Tuesday, Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson will square off for a berth in the U.S. Open semifinals.
   The 17th-seeded Querrey, a San Francisco native, dismantled 23rd-seeded Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in 1 hour, 16 minutes in Sunday's late match at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Zverev, the older brother of sixth-ranked Alexander Zverev, stunned then-No. 1 Andy Murray to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January.
   South Africa's Anderson, seeded 28th, defeated Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4 during the day session in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey ripped 55 winners, including 18 aces, and committed just eight unforced errors in the fastest men's match of the tournament.
   "I really couldn't have done anything better out there tonight," Querrey, 29, crowed in his on-court interview. "It was my first time playing out here at night, so I wanted to make the most of it.
   "I was a little nervous at first, but I came out playing hot. Tennis is a game of momentum, and once I broke early, I felt like I was off to the races. I felt comfortable three minutes into the match, and that was the key."
   With the win, Querrey will become the No. 1 American for the first time since July 2013. He currently is third at No. 21 behind John Isner (No. 15) and Jack Sock (No. 16).
   On the women's side, Fresno product Sloane Stephens also reached the quarterfinals by beating a seeded German. Stephens, who had foot surgery in January, topped No. 30 Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
  Stephens, who ousted Serena Williams to advance to the Australian Open semifinals in 2013, will face 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia for the first time.
   Sevastova defeated wild card Maria Sharapova 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to move into the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
   Querrey is the first American man to gain the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick and Isner in 2011 and the only one remaining in singles this year.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, though, might as well be American. A 31-year-old veteran, he starred at the University of Illinois (2005-07), has an American wife and lives in Gulf Stream, Fla.
   Both Querrey and Anderson played part-time for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis in 2012, but not together.
   Querrey is 9-6 against the 32nd-ranked Anderson, beginning with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory in Sacramento. They have split two matches this year, Querrey prevailing in five sets in the fourth round at Wimbledon in July and Anderson winning 6-4, 6-1 in the third round in Montreal last month.
   Their half of the draw will produce a first-time Grand Slam finalist, and the stars seem aligned for Querrey.
   Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are in the other half of the draw. The highest seed in Querrey and Anderson's half is No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. Murray, Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori -- the top five players, in order, in the 2016 year-end rankings -- missed the tournament with injuries.
   Also, Querrey is riding a wave of confidence after advancing to his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon and winning Los Cabos last month to give him a "Sombrero Double" with the Acapulco title in March.
   Last but not least, Querrey will have the support of the boisterous New York crowd.
   Anderson, meanwhile, will play in his second major quarterfinal. He lost to Wawrinka at that stage two years ago in the U.S. Open after upsetting Murray in the round of 16.
   In the first round of the junior tournaments at Flushing Meadows, two players from Northern California beat seeds in singles.
   Sam Riffice, an 18-year-old Sacramento native now based in Orlando, Fla., knocked off No. 4 Yuta Shimizu of Japan 6-3, 6-2. And Katie Volynets, 15, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, took out No. 13 Emily Appleton of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4.
(Matches involving players with Northern California connections)
Women's doubles
Second round
   Timea Babos, Hungary, and Andrea Hlavackova (5), Czech Republic, def. Raquel Atawo (Fresno native; Cal, 2001-04; San Jose resident), United States, and Sabine Lisicki, Germany, 6-3, 6-4. 
   Kiki Bertens, Netherlands, and Johanna Larsson (11), Sweden, def. Julia Boserup and Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13), United States, 6-2, 6-3.
Mixed doubles
Second round
   Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, and Marcin Matkowski (8), Poland, def. Raquel Atawo (Fresno native; Cal, 2001-04; San Jose resident), United States, and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Pakistan, 3-6, 6-3 [10-4].

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