Lots of people have made outlandish bets with their friends, and Sam Querrey is no exception.
Entering the 2016 season, the San Francisco native made a wager with his high school friend, Jared Grosslight.
“I bet Ham (Grosslight) if I didn’t make the quarters of a slam, I’d get him any bottle of scotch he wanted,” said Querrey after his first round match at the 2018 Rogers Cup in Toronto.
“If I did, he’d get his belly button pierced.”
Grosslight seemed to be in the clear after Querrey lost in the first round at both the 2016 Australian and French Open.
In the third round of Wimbledon, he faced Novak Djokovic, the two-time defending champion. Djokovic had made it to at least the quarterfinals of his last 28 Grand Slam events. Querrey had never made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam singles event in his life.
Grosslight’s navel seemed to be safe.
Instead, the 6 foot 6 inch gentle giant shocked the tennis world with a thrilling four set win over Djokovic.
Querrey followed this up with a Round-of-16 victory over Nicolas Mahut to reach his first career grand slam quarterfinal. Grosslight’s belly button would never be the same.
“We all went, and he got a belly button piercing that dangled,” said Querrey. “A little bedazzle, and he kept it in for 3 months.”
“A bet’s a bet. He stuck to it.”
A year later, the Las Vegas resident would again knock off the reigning Wimbledon champion. This time, he beat Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, leading to his first Grand Slam semifinals appearance.
Beating Djokovic and Murray in successive years helped Querrey understand exactly how much he was capable of.
“Before those wins, I had some big wins over top 10 guys,” said Querrey. “But to have it be at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals (against Murray) or in the round of 32 (against Djokovic), it really did give me belief that I can do that anywhere now against any guy if I play.
“I feel like I’m a pain against anyone, and can beat all those guys at any given moment.”
One can’t help but notice how Querrey’s Grand Slam success over the last few years has coincided with greater stability in his personal life. In 2015, he began dating fashion model Abigail Dixon.
“It’s always nice to have someone that’s not your coach by your side for big wins or big losses,” said Querrey.
“As a tennis player, you lose most of the year at every tournament, and she’s always right by my side, always positive, always giving me good feedback. I feel like we’re in this together.”
Querrey married Dixon this past June in Fort Pierce, Florida, with two of his close friends, John Isner and Steve Johnson, in attendance.
Despite the trio sharing a close friendship, Querrey understands the downside in having three of America’s top players get along so well.
“I do feel like in sports, when there’s some genuine hate betweens teams and players, it’s intriguing,” said Querrey.
“I guess we don’t have that. I do feel like it would be fun if there was some real dislike for one another.”
Still, the ten-time tour winner feels lucky to have such a deep bond with his compatriots.
“I’m glad we’re friends. After we’re done with tennis, I’m sure we’ll continue to hang out forever.”
Hopefully Isner and Johnson know better than to make any bets with Querrey.
Peter Mendelsohn is a contributing writer to Long Island and New York Tennis Magazines. He is the owner of tennisdork.com. He is currently pursuing a degree in sports journalism. He previously spent five years as a personal injury lawyer in Toronto, Canada. He may be reached by phone at (647) 984-5509 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeterMendel7