© Alex Smith/New York Open

Sam Querrey reaches the semi-finals on Friday at the New York Open.

Querrey Returns To New York SF

Opelka, Schnur also advance

Twelve months ago, Sam Querrey was a tie-break away from winning the New York Open (l. to Anderson). The American might get another shot at the ATP 250 title this weekend.

Querrey advanced to his first tour-level semi-final since last year in New York on Friday, beating Jason Jung of Chinese Taipei 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Jung had upset second-seeded American Frances Tiafoe on Thursday night. But the 6'6” Querrey hit 23 aces and didn't face a break point in the decider to advance.

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“I came out strong and ready to go in the third set and got the early break and that allowed me to free up. I got some momentum on my serve, allowing me to go for it on my return games,” said Querrey, who often practises with Jung in Los Angeles. “He had a great tournament. He's a guy who makes you beat him.”

Querrey was close to cracking the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings when he fell to Kevin Anderson in last year's final. From there, however, the American didn't reach another semi-final and fell to as low as No. 59.

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But the 31-year-old has recommitted himself to playing aggressively this year, and so far it's working. In the semi-finals, he will meet Canadian Brayden Schnur, who's having the best week of his career.

The 23-year-old Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the qualifying draw. Then he won two matches to make the main draw, but a semi-final run hardly seemed likely. Schnur had been 0-5 in tour-level matches before this week.

But he beat compatriot Jack Mingjie Lin and Steve Johnson of the U.S. for his first tour-level wins, and his dream run continued on Friday with a 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 7-5 win against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. Schnur lost four consecutive set points from 6/2 in the tie-break, but he recovered in the second and scored the first break of the match at 5-5 in the deciding set.

“It’s definitely something I didn’t expect,” Schnur said. “I’m talking to my buddies, and they’re saying, 'Your breakthrough week is going to come when you least expect it.' Sure enough this week, I show up here, I’m pretty tired, came off having the flu, and now I’m in the semi-finals.”

In the bottom half, American Reilly Opelka reached his first tour-level semi-final in nearly three years, beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4. Opelka saved the only break point he faced and converted four of his six opportunities against the Spaniard.

The 6'11” Opelka will next take on top seed John Isner, who recorded a milestone moment in his routine 6-4, 6-1 win over Aussie Jordan Thompson. Isner landed a staggering 92 per cent of his first-serves, the highest first-serve percentage in his 613 ATP Tour and Grand Slam matches. His previous record was 86 per cent on two occasions (2015 Shanghai 2R vs. Mannarino and 2018 Madrid QF vs. A. Zverev)

Isner racked up 10 break points throughout the match, converting three as he sprinted to victory in 63 minutes. The American is through to his first semi-final since reaching the last four this past October at the Intrum Stockholm Open.

"I certainly served very well and started the match well," said Isner. "This is a good court for big servers, which you're seeing with all four of the semi-finalists here."

Opelka beat Isner earlier this year at the Australian Open, but Isner beat Opelka the last time they met in a semi-final, at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open.

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