Not today, Sam!
The last time World No. 1 Novak Djokovic played Sam Querrey, the American stunned the Serbian in the third round of Wimbledon three years ago. But despite getting off to a slow start Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open and having his serve tested throughout the match, Djokovic battled past Querrey 7-5, 6-1 to reach the second round in Cincinnati.
This is Djokovic’s first tournament since saving two championship points in the Wimbledon final en route to claiming his fifth title at The Championships. Mason, Ohio, holds good memories for the Serbian, who completed his Career Golden Masters at this event last season.
Djokovic was broken in the first game of the match and he saved two break points in each of his first two service games in the second set, but the 32-year-old clenched his teeth and waited for his opportunities, advancing after one hour and 18 minutes.
Querrey used his footwork well to cut off any angles Djokovic tried to use, stepping into the court and blasting away to try to keep the top seed on the back foot. But once Djokovic went into his trademark ‘lockdown mode’ from the baseline, the big-serving Querrey struggled for service points, even on his first serve.
The American entered the week in second place on the ATP Tour over the past 52 weeks by winning 82.2 per cent of his first-serve points. But Querrey managed to win just 63 per cent of points on his first delivery against Djokovic. The 33-time ATP Masters 1000 champion broke serve four times in his victory.
Djokovic has reached the final in three of his past four tournaments. And this week, he will try to wrestle back the lead in the ATP Race To London from Rafael Nadal, who took the lead in the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking by capturing his fifth Canadian ATP Masters 1000 title last week at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
The defending champion will next play No. 13 seed John Isner or Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. Isner defeated Djokovic here in 2013, but the World No. 1 leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 9-2. Djokovic is 2-0 against Carreno Busta.