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Djokovic conqueror Querrey reaches 1st Slam QF at Wimbledon

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LONDON — One match after a stunning victory over two-time reigning champion Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, there was no letdown for Sam Querrey.

And Querrey was all too aware people might have wondered whether he could follow that up with another strong performance.

“If I didn’t win, there would have been a lot of, `Wow, it was kind of a fluky match against Novak, because you didn’t back it up,”‘ Querrey said. “I feel like I did a really good job of putting my head down and playing really well today.”

Using his strong serve to produce 23 aces and getting broken only once, the 41st-ranked Querrey eliminated France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Monday at the All England Club to reach the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career.

Another significant statistic attached to this Fourth of July victory for Querrey: He is the first American man to make it to the final eight at any major tournament since 2011, when Andy Roddick and John Isner lost at that stage of the U.S. Open.

That year was also the last time a man from the country, Mardy Fish, was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.

Heady stuff for Querrey, a 28-year-old Californian who is so laid-back on the court that he absentmindedly flips or twirls his racket while waiting to receive serve.

“It must be natural,” Querrey said, “because I didn’t really know I did it.”

After ending the No. 1-ranked Djokovic’s 30-match Grand Slam winning streak in the third round, Querrey acknowledged, “I’m sure there’s been times where I’ve been much too casual and relaxed and I’ve lost a lot of matches.”

That cool demeanor is serving Querrey well this fortnight, though.

“I haven’t felt many nerves yet this week. I think I’m kind of over that almost,” he said. “Hopefully will just kind of play freely and have fun and play big and hopefully get another win.”

To reach the semifinals, Querrey will need to get past No. 6 seeded Milos Raonic of Canada. Raonic constructed the first comeback from a two-set deficit in his career Monday, beating No. 11 David Goffin of Belgium 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Querrey holds a 2-1 head-to-head edge over Raonic, a two-time major semifinalist, including at Wimbledon in 2014.

One thing Querrey does not seem to want to do is put his monumental upset of Djokovic out of his mind.

“I’m not going to lie: After the Novak match, I watched every highlight I could over and over,” Querrey said. “Enjoyed the hell out of that moment.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Azarenka aims to come back in time for Wimbledon

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MOSCOW — Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka says she is planning to return to competition before Wimbledon.

Azarenka, who was ranked No. 1 for seven months in 2012 and 2013, went on a break last July to have her first child. She had previously been targeting a return at the July 31-Aug. 6 Bank of the West Classic in California.

In a statement on Twitter, the Belarusian says “my training has been progressing well and I feel ready to start competing,” adding that she plans “to play one of the grass court events prior to Wimbledon.”

Wimbledon starts July 3.

Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, and has twice reached the Wimbledon semifinals.

Djokovic announces Agassi will coach him at French Open

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ROME — Novak Djokovic is joining forces with Andre Agassi in an effort to return to No. 1.

Djokovic announced Sunday that Agassi will coach him at the French Open, which starts next Sunday.

“I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris,” Djokovic said. “So he’s going to be there. We’ll see what (the) future brings.

“We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us. We don’t have any long-term commitment. It’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little bit,” Djokovic added. “He will not stay the whole tournament. He’s going to stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll see after that what’s going to happen.”

The second-ranked Djokovic split with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members – fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic – at the start of the month.

Agassi, who retired in 2006, won eight Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slams.

“Andre is someone that I have tremendous respect for as a person and as a player,” Djokovic said. “He has been through everything that I’m going through. On the court he understands the game amazingly well. I am enjoying every conversation that I have with him.

“But also, on the other hand, he’s someone that nurtures the family values, philanthropy work. He’s a very humble man, is very educated. He’s a person that can contribute to my life on and off the court a lot. I’m very excited to see what is ahead of us.”

The pairing is the latest in a series of top players working with former standouts, from Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya, and Kei Nishikori and Michael Chang.

Djokovic was coached by Boris Becker the last three seasons, but they split last year.

Vajda started working with Djokovic in 2006.

Djokovic lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray last year after a slump in form following his French Open triumph.

He lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years, lost in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the U.S. Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open.

Djokovic finished 2016 at No. 2, his current ranking. He’s won only one of his last 11 tournaments.

While Agassi has not coached a top player before, Djokovic said his record as a player and spokesman of the game was enough to convince him.

“He’s a legend of our sport,” Djokovic said. “He’s made a mark in this sport forever. He’s won everything there is to win in tennis.

“He was a revolutionary player because he had this charisma, he had this approach to tennis and to life that was quite different from others. That’s why he was so interesting.”

Agassi has already been offering advice on the phone.

“He’s been definitely following up closely all the matches, the big matches, especially on the TV,” Djokovic said. “So he knows players, he knows everyone that I was playing against in (the) last couple of weeks, so we talked before every match.

Djokovic added, “I already feel like we are very kind of close to each other and creating this nice vibe.”