(Reuters) – Sam Querrey joined a prestigious group of American winners of the Queens’s Club grasscourt title on Sunday when he boomed down 15 aces to leave best buddy Mardy Fish floundering on center court.
Querrey, the seventh seed, came through a hard-hitting contest 7-6 7-5 to claim his third title of a productive year and earmark him as a dark horse for the Wimbledon championships which start on June 21.
The towering 22-year-old seized his chance to win the title after the draw was shredded by a cull of all the top seeds including world number one Rafael Nadal, four-times champion Andy Roddick and last year’s winner Andy Murray.
As well as Roddick, the gigantic trophy which must be one of the largest in tennis, has also been lifted by Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Todd Martin.
All of those players, most notably Sampras, McEnroe and Connors, also enjoyed incredible highs at Wimbledon but whether or not Querrey can also make a big impact at the only grand slam played on grass is open to question.
But it has certainly not done his confidence any harm on a surface he admits once left him clueless.
“It’s an honor to win the trophy,” Querrey told reporters. “All the greatest players in the world are on this trophy. It’s nice to be added to that list with them.
“I’m definitely playing great on the grass, and now I’ve got a week to practice and re-group. Then I’m looking forward to Wimbledon next Monday.
It was not quite the finale that had been expected but Querrey and Fish made sure the first all-American final here since 1994 was an interesting spectacle for the center court crowd.
Fish threatened an early break before the rhythm of the match settled down to a procession of big-serving and heavy baseline hitting. Neither man made many forays to the net.
Querrey dominated the first set tiebreak, winning it 7-3, but Fish did finally break serve in the fifth game of the second set when his opponent blazed a forehand long.
A deciding set looked on the cards before two shocking backhands by Fish when he served at 5-4 in the second set allowed Querrey to break back.
Fish wavered again at 5-6 to hand Querrey victory and his first title on grass.
“I just really wanted to focus on my service games the whole week, which I did a great job of,” Querrey, who plans to buy Fish a consolation dinner on Sunday, said. “I think I only lost serve maybe like three times this week.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Alison Wildey)