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Querrey steps up return after double surgery

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Originally published on: 23/09/11 10:16

Sam Querrey dipped onto the challenger circuit last week for the first time in four years in an attempt to speed up his recovery from two unrelated surgeries in recent months.

The American first injured his elbow while hitting a serve as he warmed up for his third round match with Britain’s James Ward at Queen’s Club in June, but just when surgery appeared to have put him back on the right path, the 23-year-old suffered a freak infection in his belly button.

“It was kind of hurting one day, and then it started to get inflamed and red,” Querrey told ESPN in a phone interview. “It hurt to the point where I couldn’t sleep, and it hurt to walk.”

Told he was suffering from an umbilical cord infection, the six-time ATP Tour titlist immediately underwent minor surgery to rid himself of the problem.

“It was kind of a strange thing,” admitted Querrey. “Fortunately right after the surgery it didn’t hurt and I was able to play tennis. I started [hitting again] two days later.”

Still recovering from the operation but keen to go out and experience competitive play again, Querrey dipped down to the Challenger circuit last week to play an event in Tulsa, where he made the last four before losing to world No.558 Michael McClune in three tight sets.

“Playing a Challenger, I felt pressure, but coming out of it I took it as a positive that my elbow didn’t hurt,” Querrey said. “It gave me confidence for the rest of the year knowing that I can make it through a tournament without my elbow hurting. It definitely took a match or two to swing as hard as I can. The doctor can say, ‘hey, it’s 100 per cent, but it’s a different feeling going out and doing it for yourself.”

Having excelled in 2010 by winning four tour titles – including two at the expense of close pal John Isner – Querrey has seen the likes of Isner, Mardy Fish, Alex Bogomolov JR. and Donald Young outshine him this year, and knows he has plenty to do if he is to catch up with his fellow Americans.

Presently ranked at a lowly No.116, way off the career-best No.17 spot he earned this January, Querrey has just 10 wins and 14 losses to his name on the ATP Tour this year but will cram as much tennis as possible into his schedule from now until the end of the year to make up for his time off.

The Las Vegas resident will play a couple more challenger events in America, before heading to ATP events in Vienna, Valencia and Paris.

“I’m hungrier than ever,” he said. “When you don’t play a tournament or practice for a while, it lets you know how much you miss the sport, how much you love it.

“Hopefully I can make a little bit of a run here but then really refocus and restart and next year put together another good year like 2010 – or hopefully better than that.”

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