FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. — NCAA champ Bradley Klahn — an economics major at Stanford — nearly schooled fellow Californian Sam Querrey in a first-round matchup in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Klahn, a six-foot All-American, pushed the No. 22-ranked Querrey to four sets before succumbing 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Despite his strong showing, the No. 596th-ranked Klahn, who had practiced with Querrey just days before the draw was released, says he still plans to return to Stanford for his junior year.
As for the difference between the collegiate and professional level, he said, “The physicality of it is just something you have to be ready for on every point. These guys are just physically so much stronger. There’s a lot of stuff you can get away with in college, being lazy with your feet. You’d get exposed in the pros. You just have to be on high alert every point.”
The match may be best remembered for one highlight-reel shot. Querrey over-hit a forehand approach that struck Harrison directly in the unmentionables.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to go right at me,” said Klahn. “But I think it actually loosened me up out there. I played better. Besides losing the match, I guess that’s probably the worst thing that could have happened out there. I wasn’t playing that well and was still a little nervous. After that, I saved a break point, held and got the break.”
As for the pain?
“The first five seconds I thought, ‘That’s alright.’ Then it was, ‘I need a trainer.’ It’s not going to get much worse than getting hit there in front of all the fans,” Klahn said. “It definitely lightened the mood, I’d say. Maybe I’ll make ESPN, who knows.”
For his part, Querrey, who considers Klahn a good close friend, says it wasn’t personal. “That was an accident,” he professed. “I mean, he hit a dropshot, and I ran up there and it was kind of better than I thought. So I kind of got a little confused where I was going to hit it. I kind of went at him. I didn’t mean to hit it there.”
Klahn revealed that part of his motivation for returning to school is that Stanford will host the ’11 NCAA Championships, and he’d love nothing more than to bring back a team title the Pac-10 power, which is in the midst of a 10-year title drought.
“Our crowds at school are great,” he said. “It would be nice to win it on our home courts.”
Unlike Klahn, Querrey opted to turn pro out of high school, turning down an offer from UCLA. But he said Klahn should flourish either way he goes. “He can definitely play with the pros,” Querrey asserted. “He’s playing well. He takes sets off guys in practice all the time. I think either decision is a good one. He can improve at Stanford and he can improve playing the tour. So either way I think it’s the right decision.”
Ranked No. 40, Ana Ivanovic says she’s feeling more like a top-10 player these days. The Serb, who moved into the third round with a 6-3, 6-0 win over the 21st-seeded Jie Zheng, appears to be playing with renewed mental toughness, but it may be improved fitness that’s making the difference. “That was a little bit of a Catch-22 before, because I wanted to work on it, but there were always little injuries and pains. So I always had to stay away from gym and just tried to do a lot of rehab and stretching. But now I could actually do some strengthening exercise, and also a lot more specific footwork drills and agility for matches.”