Q&A with Sam Querrey
The tennis player talks Wimbledon, weddings, and clay vs. grass courts.
Last year, Sam Querrey had the best performance of his career when he beat Andy Murray and progressed to the Wimbledon semifinals. This year, he headed back to the grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London as both a top prospect and a newlywed. After winning his first two matches in straight sets, he lost to Gaël Monfils of France in the third round.
Querrey is quite agile considering his 6-foot-6-inch frame, says his full-time physical therapist Christian LoCascio. But his biggest strengths are his naturally flexible shoulders and hips, which help him avoid injury and deliver powerful serves. Having hit 314 aces in 2018 alone, the 30-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best servers on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour. (Compare that to number one seed Rafael Nadal, who’s hit just 54 aces this year.)
But Querrey’s service game isn’t the only one that’s thriving: After competing in both singles and doubles at this summer’s French Open, he hopped on a plane to Florida to marry his girlfriend of three years, Abby Dixon, on June 9.
The number 13 seed told Furthermore about tournament prep, core strength, and the secret to his serve.
Did getting married in the middle of Grand Slam season impact your training?
Not much. We had a very small, easy ceremony and I usually take a handful of days off after the French Open anyway. Sometimes it’s nice to step away from tennis for a little bit. The wedding helped me feel refreshed for the rest of the season.
This summer you’ve played singles and doubles on both clay and grass. How do you train for all those elements?
I don’t practice for doubles. I practice for singles, then I use those skills on the doubles court. I try to play the same style regardless of the surface. To prepare for grass, I do more glute exercises like butterfly bridges, monster walks, and planks with leg lifts because your body has to stay lower to the court. The ball doesn’t bounce as high, but the bounces are unpredictable, so you have to move fast. On clay, you can run less and slide more.
What do you do to prepare your body for tournaments?
It’s always different. Sometimes I take the week before off, sometimes I play an exhibition. I just try to make sure my body is feeling good, fresh, and ready to go. I travel full time with my physical therapist, Christian LoCascio, who is amazing. I’m 30 now and in the second half of my tennis career, so I spend a couple hours with him before and after matches. We stretch, do soft tissue work, and use mobilization belts and I regularly get cupping and needling. He makes sure my body is healthy every day.
Do you exercise during Wimbledon, or do you save your energy for the matches?
I do light sessions in the gym and work with bands. On off days, I challenge my core stability with single-arm and -leg moves; I love plank jacks, supine leg lifts, V-ups, and dead bugs. I do enough to stay strong and fit but not so much that I’m fatigued or sore for a match. Each day, I warm up with dynamic stretches before my first hit, then recover with static stretches and ice baths.
What about when you’re not competing?
If I’m home for a couple of weeks, I work out every day and I always change my routine. I’ll plan about 90 minutes of lower- and upper-body exercises, plus cardio. I like to run on Woodway treadmills and use the VersaClimber.
How do you fuel for all that training?
We travel so much, so it’s hard to follow a strict program. I try to eat healthy, but you kind of have to eat what’s given to you at the courts. For breakfast I’ll have eggs, berries, and toast. For lunch I almost always have chicken, pasta, or fish. Wimbledon week means lots of good, clean food. As important as it is to eat well, staying hydrated is more important for me.
You have a famously strong serve. What’s your secret?
It helps being 6 foot 6 inches, but mostly it’s about shoulder and rotator cuff flexibility. Healthy shoulders are key to a good serve. It takes a lot of band work, which I’ve done pretty much every day for 10 years.
How has your training evolved over your career?
I do less cardio and more physical therapy to make sure my flexibility is there, my rotator cuffs are strong, and my hips are loose. I worry more about feeling good than feeling strong.