Sam Querrey’s road to the Wimbledon semifinals went through Las Vegas.
After shocking defending champion and top seed Andy Murray for the biggest win of his career on Wednesday, Querrey has a chance to become the first American to win the men’s title at Wimbledon since Pete Sampras in 2000.
The 6-foot-6 Querrey, the No. 24 seed, advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal by rocking Murray with 27 aces in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 stunner. He will face No. 7 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia on Friday.
In another quarterfinal, Novak Djokovic had to retire due to an elbow injury. He was trailing Czech Tom Berdych, world No. 15, 7-6 (7-2) 2-0 when he withdrew. A Wimbledon title would have moved Djokovic back into world No. 1.
Berdych will face Roger Federer in the other semifinal, with Federer going for a record eighth Wimbledon title. He advanced with a win over Milos Raonic.
Querrey has had a home in Las Vegas for years and his parents, Mike and Chris, ran the Darling Tennis Center.
Querrey, 29, is the first American to reach a major semifinal since Andy Roddick was Wimbledon runnerup to Federer in 2009. Querrey was a member of the Las Vegas Neon, a World Team Tennis franchise, that year.
Querrey’s win created a buzz at the Darling Tennis Center, where his mother used to run the front desk.
“He’s a very down-to-earth guy,” said teaching pro Marko Babac. Querrey showed at the DTC with different hitting partners over the years.
“This is quite remarkable,” said Babac, noting that Querrey had dropped out of the top 100, changed coaches, “and now has a chance to win Wimbledon.
“Sam has a chance against anyone because of his serve,” said Babac, “but especially on the grass” which allows big serves keep to speed their speed on the slippery surface.
Murray was noticeably gimpy throughout the match.
A year ago, Querrey, then ranked No. 41, served notice that his game was coming together when he upset defending champion Djokovic to reach the quarterfinals.
That ended Djokovic’s 30-match Grand Slam winning streak and four major titles in a row. Querrey’s highest singles ranking was No. 17 in early 2011.
He entered Wimbledon as the No. 3 American man behind Jack Sock and John Isner. Querrey grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., former home of actor Kurt Russell and Michael Richards of “Seinfeld” fame.
Querry’s father, Mike, was a fifth-round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1979. He passed up the pros to play for the University of Arizona as the cleanup hitter. The younger Querrey was a Wimbledon long shot — before the tournament, the Westgate sports book posted his odds to win at 200-1.
Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champ, has been coached by Andre Agassi since May. Agassi, in a pre-Wimbledon interview, said Djokovic was in great shape. "He's 30 going on 25 with his body,” Agassi said…
On the women’s side, six-seed Johanna Konta of Britain defeated two-seed Simona Halep of Romania, 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to become Britain’s first women’s semifinalist since Virginia Wade in 1978.
Halep and her coach, former Las Vegas resident and Agassi coach Darren Cahill, briefly split in March over her attitude in the Miami Open. She was able to convince him to return. Despite the loss, Halep will become the new world No. 1 at the completion of Wimbledon.
On this day…
July 12, 2001: “Baywatch” star Carmen Electra announces she signed a two-year contract to star in “Lumiere,” a music-and-magic extravaganza with illusionist Hans Klok at the Aladdin beginning in early 2002. But the show never materializes because of Electra’s meltdowns, and the hotel winds up in bankruptcy. In 2007, Klok resurfaces at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, formerly the Aladdin, with Pamela Anderson as his assistant in “The Beauty of Magic.” Klok and Anderson went on some major talk shows together, strongly hinting a romance had blossomed between them. He later admitted he was gay and that it was all a publicity ploy.
July 13, 2010: Las Vegas native and College of Southern Nevada star Bryce Harper wins the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the nation’s best amateur baseball player. The 17-year-old prodigy isn’t an amateur for long: He’s the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft and a Major League All-Star by 2012.
Bishop Gorman’s Zach Collins, who had a starring role as a freshman in helping Gonzaga reach the Final Four this year, with family members at Hugo’s Cellar (Four Queens) on Tuesday. The 7-footer is in town for the NBA Summer League as the Portland Trail Blazers’ top draft pick (No. 10 overall). Also at Hugo’s: Tommy Massimino, former assistant coach at UNLV with his father, Rollie, dining with his son, Tommy, who handles video for the Denver Nuggets…
Milwaukee Brewers slugger Eric Thames, with friends at the “friends and family” pre-opening of the Shake Shack at The District in Henderson on Wednesday …
Actor and dancer Miles “Baby Boogaloo” Brown, who plays Jack Johnson on ABC’s “Black-ish,” taking in Mat Franco’s magic show at The Linq Hotel & Casino on Tuesday. The child star was called on stage to assist Franco with one of his signature tricks and met Franco and his team after the show...
At Encore Beach Club (Wynn) on Sunday: Javier Hernandez Balcazar, the Mexican soccer standout who plays under the name of “Chicharito” for the German club Bayern Leverkusen and the Mexican national team, with a large group….
I’m happy to report Shecky Greene is back on his feet after breaking a leg in March while attempting to climb on stage at the Italian American Club. Greene was at the Bootlegger Bistro’s Copa Club venue on Saturday for my 75th birthday party. Also there: Mayor Carolyn Goodman, her husband and former Mayor Oscar Goodman, Muhammad Ali’s former business manager Gene Kilroy, AP’s Las Vegas-based sports columnist Tim Dahlberg, Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes and entertainers Pia Zadora, George Bugatti, and Nelson Sardelli.
The punch line
“According to a new study, the best-received smiles are those that have a pleasing balance of teeth, which is incidentally the worse-received compliment. ‘Has anyone ever told you how your balance of teeth is pleasing to the eye? Is this seat taken?” -- Seth Meyers.