Quer­rey’s on brink

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LEO SCHLINK

FOR years Sam Quer­rey has been mocked as the Nearly Man.

Un­til Wed­nes­day, 41 grand slam op­por­tu­ni­ties had come and gone.

His best re­sult was the Wim­ble­don quar­ter- fi­nals last year, when he gained fleet­ing fame as a gi­ant- slayer by rolling world No. 1 and de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic.

Fast for­ward a year, and the Las Ve­gan has be­lat­edly claimed the lime­light – with a much over­due sense of ar­rival.

Repris­ing his gi­ant- killing rep­u­ta­tion, Quer­rey cre­ated his­tory by bowl­ing over world No. 1 and de­fend­ing cham­pion Andy Mur­ray.

No man in grand slam his­tory has taken as many at­tempts – 42 – to reach a maiden ma­jor semi- fi­nal.

South Aus­tralian Mark Wood­forde pre­vi­ously held the record with 38. Quer­rey, 29, plays US Open win­ner Marin Cilic tonight.

“We’ll see. Any­thing can hap­pen,” Quer­rey said.

“Marin is ranked, like, 5. He’s right out­side of the Big Four. That’s go­ing to be a tough one.”

Cilic holds a 4- 0 win- loss edge, with three of those vic­to­ries com­ing on grass.

Quer­rey con­fessed he didn’t ex­pect to ad­vance to the semi- fi­nals.

“I mean, hon­estly, prob­a­bly didn’t write that in. I knew I could make the sec­ond week,” he said.

“I’m com­fort­able on the grass. I like play­ing at Wim­ble­don. It’s been a dream tour­na­ment so far.

“Hope­fully I can keep it go­ing and go one round fur­ther.”

Asked to de­scribe him­self, the un­com­pli­cated Amer­i­can said: “I’m ranked 26, pretty good grass court player. That’s about it.”

Cilic cred­its for­mer coach Go­ran Ivani­se­vic, the 2001 cham­pion, for pro­vid­ing the key to el­e­vat­ing from de­cent to ex­cep­tional.

“For me ( the) huge dif­fer­ence was when I started to work with Go­ran, we changed my serv­ing mo­tion, serv­ing rou­tine,” Cilic said.

“I be­lieve that has helped me to win the US Open 2014, to play re­ally well in those few years.

“Now with work­ing with Jonas ( Bjork­man), I be­lieve we worked on some dif­fer­ent as­pects.

“I be­lieve we just found a good for­mula for my­self to play con­stantly on a good level. I be­lieve that’s some­thing that I was missing dur­ing most of my ca­reer.

“Now the moment, I would say, these last three months that I’ve played, maybe that was the most con­sis­tent ten­nis on a high level that I played ever in my ca­reer.”

STEP UP: Sam Quer­rey cel­e­brates beat­ing Bri­tain's Andy Mur­ray in their men's sin­gles quar­ter- fi­nal match at Wim­ble­don.

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