By Jason Brown, USTA.com
USTA.com: What has your Davis Cup experience at Winston-Salem been like?Sam Querrey:
It’s been great. It was sort of a last-minute thing. Patrick called me because Andy was having trouble with his hamstring and Mardy was a little hurt with his shoulder. So he said come, you might get in if these guys are hurt. So that was really exciting to get a call from Patrick. I’ve been to three Davis Cup ties now and this one has been, by far, the best. Just with 14,000 people in a sold-out arena. The fans here are great and Winston-Salem is very cool and everyone seems to be into it.
USTA.com: Has the team embraced you?
Sam Querrey: Any time that I’m with those guys, they’re really cool and supportive, and they teach me things. They’re great role models.
USTA.com: Have you forged a connection with any of the guys on the team that you might keep in touch with during the Tour season?
Sam Querrey: All of the guys – I’m really close with Andy, James, the Bryans, and Mardy. I talk to them all the time; when we’re at the same tournament, we go out to dinner. So we’re already pretty close.
USTA.com: Funniest story from the week in Winston-Salem?
Sam Querrey: The other night we were out at an old dive bar in town. There was no one in the DJ booth, so I went up there and started DJ’ing for the whole bar and the team. We got some photos of it, so that was pretty funny.
USTA.com: Have any of your Davis Cup teammates given you advice since you’re just starting out your career in the pro ranks?
Sam Querrey: I get little tidbits here and there from all of them. Nothing too serious, but when we’re practicing, they’re always throwing out pointers for me.
USTA.com: When you found out that you would be making the trip to Winston-Salem, in the back of your head, were you mentally preparing yourself for the possibility of playing?Sam Querrey:
A little bit. I mean, mentally preparing myself…I don’t really know what that is, I don’t really do that. I was definitely excited that I knew that I could get the opportunity to play. I kind of wanted to and I kind of didn’t want to. But hopefully, in the future, one day I’ll get a chance.
USTA.com: The current guys on the team are all in their mid to late twenties. At 19 years old, do you see yourself as part of the next generation of U.S. stars?
Sam Querrey: Andy’s only 24 and Mardy’s only 25, but the Bryans are 29 and James is 27. So yeah, I’m kind of in that next group, but kind of on the tail end of these guys.
USTA.com: You’re already making an impact on Tour, ranked in the sixties right now. Is it everything that you thought it would be? Are you surprised by the success that you’ve already had?
Sam Querrey: I’m not really surprised anymore because that I know that my game can match up with the top guys, but if you were to ask me a year ago if I thought that I’d be ranked where I am now, I’d say no way. The Tour is great, I’m having a blast. After three or four weeks away from home, I’m ready to go back for a week, though.
USTA.com: Describe how difficult the transition from the junior ranks to the challenger circuit to the pro ranks is.
Sam Querrey: It’s not too bad. Luckily, I was able to get through the challenger circuit pretty quickly and that’s kind of what you have to do. You’ve got to buckle down and tell yourself to get through these and move on to the ATP events.
USTA.com: What aspects of your game have you been working on? What needs improvement? It’s definitely not your serve.
Sam Querrey: A lot of it is my backhand and then my volleys. I’ve been working on those a lot, and trying to come in a little bit more to the net. Instead of making the backhand just another shot to get back, turning it into a weapon.
USTA.com: How important is health, fitness and nutrition to you?
Sam Querrey: It’s important to me. I don’t have a diet or anything, but I always eat healthy and I go the gym when I’m home and run. I’m conscious of fitness and nutrition, but I don’t take it over the top. When I’m home, I work with a trainer. I’ll run with my coach Grant – we do sprints and long-distance. But no tennis-specific exercises.
USTA.com: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
Sam Querrey: Nope. I do something different every time. I just show up. If I have my iPod, sometimes I’ll listen to it, but if not, I won’t. If I happen to have a friend here, I’ll talk to him before the match. But I just kind of do whatever.
USTA.com: What's on your iPod right now?
Sam Querrey: Mostly rock songs – The Shins, The Fray, but really, a little bit of everything.
USTA.com: You played in your first US Open main draw in 2006. Describe that experience.
Sam Querrey: My first match was scheduled to play on Court 12, but those matches were taking forever, so I got moved to Louis Armstrong Stadium for a night match against Phillip Kohlschreiber. And that was awesome just to play on Armstrong. I won that match in three sets and played awesome, and two days later, I had to play Gaston Gaudio again on Armstrong, but in the late afternoon. The stadium was packed and it was really great to play on a court like that in front of so many people.
USTA.com: What has been your biggest career win? Your toughest loss?
Sam Querrey: My biggest win was probably Jose Acasuso in the first round of the 2007 Australian Open. He was ranked in the Top 25. Then I’ve had a couple of other good ones this year. So far this year, I’ve lost seven matches and all seven of them have been against Top 10 guys…Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko, Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick, and Tommy Robredo.
USTA.com: How was that playing against Roddick, a good friend?
Sam Querrey: That was fun. We played in San Jose – I lost 6-4, 7-6. It was a little weird just because I practice with him a lot and he’s taken me to his house in Austin a few times. But it’s something that you’ve got to do. You’re going to play your friends week in and week out.
USTA.com: What kinds of goals have you set for this year?Sam Querrey:
I do set goals, but I kind of don’t take them too seriously. I’d kind of like to be Top 30 or Top 40 by the end of the year, but I’ve pretty much been going in increments of ten. So I’m Top 70 now, then I’ll be Top 60, then Top 50. I’m thinking in increments of ten.
USTA.com: What do you like to do in your free time?
Sam Querrey: I’ll go golfing. I try to go to lots of concerts and hang out with my friends. The last concert that I went to was the Black Eyed Peas. That was actually really fun. I went with my sister and her friends. We’ll go the beach sometimes. We’ll play a lot of ping-pong. Basically, just hang out and do pointless activities.
USTA.com: Was there ever a point in your development as a player when you’ve wanted to give up?
Sam Querrey: You know, I haven’t yet. I don’t overdo it when I’m practicing – I really don’t practice for more than a couple of hours a day. But when I do practice, it’s really focused. I’ve never really gotten to the point where I feel like I’m over tennis. I’ve always loved and enjoyed it.
USTA.com: Would that be your advice to young players? That you really have to love the sport but don’t burn yourself out while doing it?
Sam Querrey: Yeah. Work hard when you’re on the court. You don’t necessarily have to play for four or five hours a day like some of these kids do at the academies. I rarely play more than two hours a day. But it’s focused and I go out there and try to have fun while I’m doing it.
USTA.com: Growing up, were your parents very demanding when it came to playing tennis?
Sam Querrey: Not at all. I went to regular high school and they were supportive of whatever that I did. I played other sports. They never pushed me in any one direction. But they’d drive me to tournaments on the weekends, and if I wanted to go to a baseball game instead, they’d let me do that. So I really couldn’t have had a better set of parents. They try to come to every match that they can within the Untied States.