- 27 Jul 2020
34 aces : What happened exactly on that day
On this day, the 27th of July 2007, in the quarterfinals of the Indianapolis Open, Sam Querrey set a new record against James Blake, by serving 10 aces in a row. Serving a total of 34 aces, Querrey edged Blake 7-6 6-7 7-6, to achieve the best result of his young career.
The guys involved
The powerful Sam Querrey
Sam Querrey was born in 1987. In 2006, he won his first match on main tour in Indian Wells, and within 13 months, he went from being world no.616 in the world to become a member of the top 100. In 2007, he obtained his best Grand Slam result by reaching the third round at the Australian Open (lost to Tommy Robredo, 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1), and, in Las Vegas, he reached the quarterfinals (lost to Evgueni Korolev, 6-4 6-4). As he was extremely tall (6’6), his risky game relied on a massive serve and a powerful forehand.
James Blake, at the top of his game
James Blake was born in 1979. After playing two years for Harvard University, he decided to start a professional career in 1999, and, in September 2001, he entered the top 100. Blake played a very aggressive game made from flat groundstrokes. In 2002, after reaching his first professional finales in Memphis (lost to Andy Roddick, 6-4 3-6 7-5) and in Newport (lost to Taylor Dent, 6-1 4-6 6-4), James Blake claimed his first ATP title in Washington, where he edged Paradorn Srichaphan in the final (1-6 7-6 6-4).
In 2003, Blake established himself as a solid top 30 player, but he went through a hard year in 2004, fracturing a vertebra in Rome, before facing the death of his father in July and developing shingles which temporarily paralyzed half his face and blurred his vision. As a consequence, his ranking dropped as low as world no.210 in April 2005.
A few months later, entering the US Open draw thanks to a wild card, James Blake reached the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Andre Agassi after an epic five-set combat (3-6 3-6 6-3 6-3 7-6). His peak year was 2006. That year, in September, he obtained his best-ever ranking as world no.4 after claiming five titles, reaching the US Open quarterfinals again (lost to Roger Federer, 7-6 6-0 6-7 6-4), and finishing runner-up at the Masters Cup (defeated again by Federer, 6-0 6-3 6-4). In 2007, his best results were a fourth round at the Australian Open (lost to Fernando Gonzalez, 7-5 6-4 7-6) and a title claimed in Sydney (defeating Carlos Moya in the final, 6-3 5-7 6-1).
The place : Indianapolis
The Indianapolis Tennis Championships was an annual men’s tennis tournament held in July. Played on the same surface as the US Open since 1988, it was a part of the American hard -court summer tour, and the best players in the world often came there to prepare for the last Grand Slam of the year. Amongst the former champions stood players like Boris Becker (1988, 1990), Pete Sampras (1991, 1992, 1996) or Andy Roddick (2003, 2004).
On the 27th of July 2007, James Blake, the defending champion, and Sam Querrey, faced each other in the quarterfinals of the Indianapolis Open. The two players had faced each other in Halle, on grass, five weeks before, and Blake had prevailed (4-6 6-4 6-3). Although he had won their first encounter, it was hard to pick Blake as the favourite as, in the previous round, Querrey had delivered an outstanding performance on his serve, edging another big server, the Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic, 5-7 7-5 7-6. Was James Blake going to be able do break Querrey’serve?
The answer was no. In fact, Blake was so disoriented that Querrey slammed 10 aces in a row, in a streak which started at 6-6 in the first set tie-break. Then, after winning his two first serving games at love without Blake touching a single ball, Sam Querrey hit a last ace to start his game at 2-3, before a double fault ended his streak. Not only was Blake incapable of taking his opponent’s serve, but he did not even manage to obtain a single break point. Sam Querrey, passing 64% of first serves, fired 34 aces, leaving Blake clueless, to clinch the victory, 7-6 6-7 7-6.
Sam Querrey would lose to Dmitry Tursunov in the semi-final in Indianapolis (7-6 6-2).
The two players would face each other less than a month later, in Cincinnati, and this time, James Blake would prevail (5-7 6-4 6-4).
James Blake would claim his last title in 2007, in New Haven, and, after a last Grand Slam quarterfinal reached at the 2008 Australian Open, he would slowly decline. He would leave the top 10 in August 2008, and the top 50 in 2010. Although he would never officially announce his retirement, James Blake would stop competing on the tour in 2013.
Sam Querrey would claim 10 titles in his career. His best year on the tour would be 2017, claiming two titles and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, where he would be defeated by Marin Cilic (6-7 6-4 7-6 7-5). In early 2018, Querrey would obtain his highest ATP ranking as world no.11.