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Wimbledon 2016: Defending champion Novak Djokovic in shock third round upset to world no. 41 Sam Querrey

Abigail Johnson in News 2 Jul 2016
  • Top seed Novak Djokovic has crashed out in the Wimbledon third round to world no. 41 Sam Querrey of America
  • Djokovic was the defending champion at all four Grand Slams after winning the French Open last month
  • Querrey led 7-6(6) 6-1 before rain halted play on Friday, and resumed to win 7-6(6) 6-1 4-6 7-6(5)

Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic has crashed out in the third round of Wimbledon to world no. 41 Sam Querrey.

Djokovic, who held all four Grand Slam titles after winning the French Open, was the favourite to win Wimbledon for the third straight time this year. The Serb had not dropped a set throughout victories over James Ward and Adrian Mannarino in the first two rounds, and looked especially impressive during the latter match – in which he converted on three of seven break point opportunities against a man playing at 100 percent of his abilities.

Nevertheless, Sam Querrey – renowned for his big serve and inability to win big matches – came out firing against Novak Djokovic on Court 1 on Friday. He dropped just three points on serve before the first set tiebreak, and played a confident breaker to take a 7-6(6) lead, before simply annihilating an underwhelming top seed in the second set. Djokovic could not find an answer to the bombs raining down from the no. 28 seed's racquet, and the swinging groundstrokes that struck the lines like bullets, dropping the set 6-1 and looking in trouble.

When rain delayed play until Saturday, it looked as though Querrey's chances could be over – such is the mental and physical supremacy of Novak Djokvic. The 12-time Grand Slam champion had, after all, recovered from a two sets to love deficit against Kevin Anderson here last season, and leaped out to a 5-0 lead on the resumption of his third round match with Querrey. While he only managed to claim the set 6-3, his world no. 41-ranked opponent appeared a shadow of the player who had taken the lead on the prior day: Going for the aggressive shots, but often missing by wide margins.

Even in the fourth set, it felt as though the world no. 1 were the closer man to victory – as he claimed break points in two straight Querrey service games, before finally pushing through for a 5-4 advantage. By now, the American had failed to take advantage of chance after chance offered up on the Djokovic serve.

But things began to get messy as Novak Djokovic served for the match. Two apparent unforced errors made by the server were actually good shots, but the Serb did not have sufficient challenges to object the calls. Broken to 30 as he sent a low volley into the net, he could make no impact on Sam Querrey in the following game – thus coming four points away from losing the match.

At this point, the last of many rain delays during the clash occurred. As he departed to shelter, the top seed could be seen gesturing frantically for his coach, Boris Becker, to join him as he waited to return to court. But in the unrivalled shock of the 2016 season, nothing the German said could help Novak Djokovic to recover. While he held serve upon resumption to force a tiebreak – and went on to take an early 4-2 advantage - the misses that sprayed from his racquet at the most crucial of times was a foreign sight to tennis followers worldwide. The last of these came on Sam Querrey's second match point, as the defending champion sprayed a backhand wide in one of the long rallies he had previously been dominating.

Sam Querrey was not the vintage star of Friday evening on Saturday afternoon, but the lead that he had developed – and the aces he belted down on break points – were enough to see him to a stunning upset. The stop-and-start nature of the match only intensified the mental test that it the duel was, and the 28-year-old survived the challenge: 7-6 6-1 3-6 7-6, in two hours and 56 minutes. This is the first time that Novak Djokovic has lost before the quarter-finals of a major tournament since the French Open in 2009, when he fell 6-4 6-4 6-4 to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.

Querrey hit 56 winners during the match – of which a phenomenal 31 were aces. These were accompanied by 52 unforced errors. Djokovic, meanwhile, hit 31 unforced errors, but only managed 34 winners. In the most telling of statistics, he converted on just three of 17 break point opportunities, compared to Querrey's four of 15. Small margins made a massive difference.

“I'm so ecstatic!” Sam Querrey enthused after the biggest win of his career. “I played the break points well, and every time he had a break point I was able to come up with a big serve.”

He added: "He came out and got the first four games. Fortunately for me we had another rain delay and I got to regroup. I'm just taking it one round at a time."

Sam Querrey will now face France's Nicolas Mahut for a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

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Wimbledon 2016: Defending champion Novak Djokovic in shock third round upset to world no. 41 Sam Querrey

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