By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Laid-back Californian Sam Querrey has enjoyed life on the fringes at Wimbledon so far this year but will be thrust into the maelstrom of Murray Mania on Wednesday when he faces the defending champion on his favorite court.
Far from being daunted, however, world number 28 Querrey said he would enjoy the experience of having the majority of the 15,000 people on Centre Court hoping he loses.
“He (Murray) loves playing here. The crowd is going to be behind him. But sometimes it’s fun to go out there and play where the crowd is behind the other player 100 percent,” Querrey said.
“I’m going to try to play aggressive, hopefully play well, and can sneak out a win.”
American Querrey is no stranger to the big stage and 12 months ago he rose to the occasion by stunning then defending champion Novak Djokovic en route to the quarter-finals.
Preventing Murray reaching an eighth Wimbledon semi-final would represent one of Querrey’s biggest achievements and deflate the wave of home euphoria with both the men’s top seed and sixth-seeded Johanna Konta closing in on the titles.
Even while playing at the U.S. Open, Querrey would never expect to receive the kind of attention Murray commands in Britain during the Wimbledon fortnight.
“It’s like nothing that we have in the States. He is probably, I’m sure a couple of the football (soccer) players are massive names, but he is arguably the biggest athlete over here,” the 29-year-old said.
“In the U.S. we have 10 athletes that are kind of, you would argue, on the same level.
“He’s earned that position. I’m sure he feels some of the pressure sometimes. He’s done an incredible job by backing it up and living up to and winning Wimbledon, winning the Olympics, being number one in the world.
“These two weeks it’s all about him.”
Querrey is bidding to become the first American man to reach the semi-finals at a grand slam since Andy Roddick finished as runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2009.
(This version of the story has been refiled to fix garbled quote in eighth paragraph)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)