FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Dancing behind the baseline like a man ready to burst out of the blocks, Stanislas Wawrinka could see the finish line as clearly as the service line in front of him. Wawrinka and Sam Querrey engaged in a four hour, 28-minute duel on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court this afternoon. In the end, Wawrinka withstood Querrey’s mammoth forehand and the pressure of the moment with some sustained forward thinking and fast feet.
Chipping and charging on his second match point, Wawrinka knifed a sharp backhand volley winner to complete a 7-6(9), 6-7(5), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory over the 20th-seeded Querrey and advance to his first career major quarterfinal in a win that eradicates American hopes and ensures there will be a European US Open men’s champion.
There is now no US in the US Open men’s singles as Wawrinka took down the last American man standing. It marks the second straight year there will be no American man in the quarterfinals. It happened for the first time in Open Era history last year.
Switzerland, a nation about the size of Massachusetts and New Jersey combined, has two men in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in Open Era history. Wawrinka joins five-time US Open champion Roger Federer in giving Switzerland two of the last eight men in the field.
While Querrey gave a valiant effort in a magnificent marathon match, Wawrinka pounced when Querrey blinked.
“For sure it is an amazing match to finish here against Querrey, who is a great player,” Wawrinka said. “It’s crazy. I was just trying to fight for every point. I’m very very happy to be in the quarterfinals.”
Querrey, who has never come back from a two set to one deficit to win a Grand Slam match, played with patience and power in converting his seventh set point to level the match at two sets apiece.
Blasting a bullet serve into the body that Wawrinka could only fend off with his frame, Querrey collected his seventh set point then smacked his 17th ace wide to level the match after three hours, 36 minutes of play.
Wawrinka has the weathered, leathery face of a fighter and the burly upper body and strong shoulders of a bouncer, enabling him to turn his torso into his one-handed backhand that is one of the most brilliant shots in the sport. For all his physical gifts, the knock on Wawrinka in the past was his tendency to go soft at crunch time.
Working with new coach Peter Lundgren, who guided Roger Federer and Marat Safin to Grand Slam titles and was trading confident fist-bumps with his friend in the player box at match point moment today, Wawrinka has become a much more confident and aggressive player seeking to step into his shots and impose pressure on opponents by getting to the front court.
Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.