Tennis: Sam hopes to play it again

By Michael Brown

Fourth seed Sam Querrey. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Fourth seed Sam Querrey. Photo / Greg Bowker.

For a player who once served a record 10 consecutive aces, it was quite some admission by Sam Querrey that he felt he had served the best he had ever done in his straight-sets win over Olivier Rochus today.

Querrey fired down 18 aces in his 7-5 6-3 win over Rochus and won 34 of the 36 points (94 per cent) on his first serve.

It is a big weapon, aided considerably by the fact Querrey stands 1.98m. He routinely sent down bullets in excess of 200km/h whereas the diminutive Rochus, who is 30cm shorter, struggled to get many of his first serves over 160km/h.

Querrey in this sort of form looms as one of the threats to David Ferrer's quest for a third-straight Heineken Open title but Ferrer has also built his career around returning big serves. He's come across countless Querreys in his successful career and dispatched most of them.

Regardless, Querrey sees himself as a contender this week in Auckland if he can keep his serve together. He nearly won in 2009 but was beaten in the final by Juan Martin del Potro.

"Because I served so well, my service games were relatively easy and it took so much pressure off me," he said. "It let me take a few chances on his serve.

"I feel like I'm playing well. If I keep serving well and keep hitting my forehand great, I feel like I'm a tough guy to beat. My goal is to win it but I've got to take it one match at a time."

His goal is also to break into the world's top 10 for the first time. He came into the tournament ranked 22nd in the world - he's been as high as 17 in January 2011 - and feels he has a good chance to do it in the first six months of the year given the ranking points he picked up in a good end to 2012.

The 25-year-old will now take on Canadian qualifier Jesse Levine, who beat Brian Baker 7-5 6-4, before a possible semifinal matchup against second seed and world No 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Kohlschreiber, who won the Heineken Open in 2008, was stretched by Colombian Alejandro Falla before winning 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 in two hours 12 minutes.

He won the critical points on the back of his experience and court-craft and is looking to carry on the good form of last year when he cracked the world's top 20 for the first time in his career.

The Heineken Open is his most successful tournament outside of Germany - he's won it once, been in the semfinals twice and only once failed to make the quarter-finals in eight previous visits here - but he has a tricky quarter-final against Belgian journeyman Xavier Malisse.

- APNZ

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