In a clash that pits a Grand Slam winner against a former Queen’s Club champion, Stan Wawrinka, who has won titles at Melbourne Park, Roland Garros and in Flushing Meadows, takes on 2010 champion Sam Querrey. Wawrinka, currently outside the top 200, will be looking to get his ranking back moving towards the top of the tree. But he faces a stern test indeed against Querrey, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year. Who will come out on top?
Wawrinka and Querrey have met six times previously, and it is the Swiss that has had the better of it with five wins to Querrey’s one. That includes victory in their first match back in 2009 in Indian Wells where Wawrinka won a three-set third round clash 3-6 7-5 7-6, sealing the match 10-8 in that deciding tiebreak. When their rivalry was renewed a year later at the US Open Wawrinka again emerged victorious from a thriller, winning 7-6 6-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
They did not meet again until the 2013 Australian Open in the third round. Wawrinka won again, but without expending so much effort as he advanced a 7-6 7-5 6-4 winner. But later that year in Beijing, it was Querrey’s turn to get the win in straight sets as he defeated Wawrinka 7-6 6-3 in the second round. In their only grass court encounter in 2014 Wawrinka bested Querrey with surprising ease 6-2 6-2. He scored win number five last year in the Geneva quarterfinals 4-6 7-5 6-2.
Path to the second round
Wawrinka began his tournament against the New Zealand-born Briton Cameron Norrie, who broke into the top 100 for the first time in his career earlier this season. It has been a fairly meteoric rise for Norrie, but also one that has left him short of experience with the 22-year-old having played just two matches on grass prior to taking on Wawrinka. That showed as the former-world #3 dominated throughout to run out a 6-2 6-3 winner.
Querrey, who is seeded fifth in Kensington, also began his tournament against a Briton, wildcard Jay Clarke. The 19-year-old Clarke had a memorable run in the Wimbledon doubles last year which included upsetting defending champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. But he had never before played a Tour-level singles match and was swiftly overrun by the power of Querrey, with the California native advancing 6-3 6-3.
How do they match up?
Both Querrey and Wawrinka are immensely powerful players, equipped with thunderous serves and hammering groundstrokes. Wawrinka is perhaps the more complete player, being equally comfortable rallying with his forehand and backhand, the latter of which is surely the best one-hander in the business. But, unlike Querrey, Wawrinka has never looked particularly comfortable on grass courts, preferring the slower and more predictable hard and clay surfaces.
What will surely be decisive in this match is how each man serves. On a grass court, the serve is the most dangerous weapon a player can possess and few serve bigger than this pair. However, that also means that if either man has a poor serving day, they are likely to be punished for it by their opponent. Break points will also likely be at a premium, with Wawrinka and Querrey having contested five tiebreaks in their six matches.
Wawrinka may have the upper hand in this rivalry, but the Swiss has struggled since his return from a knee injury that ultimately required surgery. Though he impressed against Norrie, Querrey is a rather more experienced and dangerous operator, and one that is more comfortable on the grass than Wawrinka. The American may not be having a great year himself, but he will reach the Queen’s quarterfinals a straight sets winner.