American Sam Querrey put on a brave face after his U.S. Open title dream was ended by South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a quarterfinal which finished just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
Anderson fired 66 winners, including 22 aces to win 7-6(5), 6-7(9), 6-3, 7-6(7) and deny Querrey a place in back-to-back grand slam semi-finals, claiming a place in the last four of a slam for the first time himself.
“(I’m) pretty happy,” Querrey said. “At the beginning of the week, if you said I would have made quarters, I probably would have signed up for that.
“I know that bottom half of the draw was open, but you can’t say 63 guys blew an opportunity. Only one guy can go through, and Kevin’s pretty tough.”
Querrey led the first-set tiebreak 5-2 only to lose it and even after winning a dramatic second-set tiebreak, always seemed second best as Anderson went for broke.
The 31-year-old, who is the first South African man or woman to reach the semi-finals at the U.S. Open in the Open era, romped through the third set and held his nerve in the fourth to win the tiebreak 9-7, saving a set point that would have taken it to a decider.
“He’s tough to play against,” Querrey said. “He’s so overly aggressive. A lot of his balls were landing (just) in. It’s just tough. Just a couple points here and there. I thought he played really well in the big points.”
Querrey had the momentum when he won the second-set tiebreak 11-9, despite squandering a 6-1 lead. But the American said Anderson’s huge serving and relentless hitting never allowed him to settle.
“Even though I won that set, he…just had three great service games, boom, boom, boom, and it kind of takes away your momentum a little bit,” he said.
“I had a little momentum, but I didn’t feel like I was, like, alright, now I’m going to get some looks, because he’s got such a big game.”
Anderson, the number 28 seed, will play the 12th seed, Pablo Carrena-Busta of Spain for a place in his first grand slam final.