Querrey stuns Djokovic in third round at Wimbledon

Facing yet another critical point during a match he never controlled, Novak Djokovic stretched for a half-volley drop winner, held up his right index finger — reminding the world, “I’m No. 1!” — then threw an uppercut and bellowed.

Perhaps this was the moment everyone kept expecting as he tried to dig himself out of a daunting deficit against 41st-ranked Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon. Perhaps this was a sign that Djokovic was rediscovering the consistency, efficiency and excellence he maintained for more than a year on tennis’ most important stages.

To wit: Djokovic had won 30 consecutive Grand Slam matches, carrying him to four consecutive Grand Slam titles, the longest such run by a man in nearly a half-century. He didn’t just appear to be unbeatable at the majors. He was.

No longer. His magical streaks are gone, including two successive titles at the All England Club and 28 Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances in a row, all brought to a sudden, stunning end by a player who has never participated in a major quarterfinal. With 31 aces against as good a returner as there is, Querrey did what no one else could for so long, beating Djokovic 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in a match interrupted Saturday by three rain delays after being suspended in progress because of showers a night earlier.

“He just overpowered me,” was Djokovic’s simple assessment.

Djokovic was stopped halfway to the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver’s in 1969.

“I believe in positive things in life, and I managed to win four Grand Slams in a row — two different seasons, though. I want to try to focus on that,” Djokovic said, “rather than failure.”

His last loss at any major came against Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final in June 2015. Since then, Djokovic won Wimbledon last July, the U.S. Open in September, the Australian Open in January and the French Open last month, raising his Slam total to 12.

Late in Djokovic’s second-round victory Wednesday, he slipped and fell to his back, but appeared to be OK at the time. Against Querrey, he rarely seemed to be himself, and afterward, was asked whether he was 100 percent healthy.

“Not really,” Djokovic replied, “but it’s not the place and time to talk about it.”

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