- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2012

In what would prove to be a back-and-forth battle, the United States’ Sam Querrey eked out a Citi Open quarterfinal victory Friday against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson (6-4, 6-4). As soon as the match point was decided, the crowd at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center cheered for its home country favorite, and the pair of competitors met to shake hands.

Moments later, they would meet again on a court just around the corner. But this time, there wouldn’t be a net between them.

Querrey and Anderson joined forces for a doubles match against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, both of France, beating them 6-3, 6-4. Querrey had to switch gears in a flash when it came to his opponent-turned-teammate. But for the 24-year-old, it’s something that has become quite familiar.

“We are good friends, so it happens all the time,” Querrey said. “I’ve played doubles with John [Isner], James [Blake], and Andy [Roddick], and we’ve played each other in the same tournament. It is just one of those things that happens.”

Querrey and Anderson traded games in the first set. In the ninth game, Anderson shut out his opponent to cut Querrey’s lead to one. Refusing to back down, Querrey responded with a shutout of his own to take the first set. The second played out in a similar fashion and was tied at four games each. Keeping up his recent winning streak, Querrey held on to win and advance.

He’ll play in Saturday’s semifinal in hopes of claiming his second straight tournament victory. On July 29, Querrey won the Farmers Classic for the third time in four years for his seventh career singles title. He’ll take on Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat the United States’ James Blake on Friday, 7-6, 6-4.

Tommy Haas, the other non-American in Saturday’s semifinal, didn’t have the luxury of familiarity with his opponent in his quarterfinal match against fellow German Tobias Kamke.

“It was a different scenario today playing a German countryman,” Haas said. “It was the first time we played together, so it was a little bit of test and feel the first couple games.”

During a 2 p.m. match, the heat of the day visibly affected bother players, who had to towel off between almost every point. Despite the extreme conditions, Haas steamrolled to a win in straight sets (6-1, 6-2). Haas will play the United States’ Mardy Fish in Saturday’s semifinal match. No. 1-seeded Fish rolled over Belgium’s Xavier Malisse (6-3, 6-4) to advance.

Fish and No. 4-seeded Haas, who has been in and out of competition during the last several years because of injury, were among the favorites to win the tournament going in. It’s a matchup that will put loving thy neighbor to the test.

Fish and Haas live near each other in Los Angeles and play against and practice with each other frequently.

“I expect a really tough match,” Fish said. “He seems to be pretty close to back to 100 percent with his health, and he’s hitting the ball as well as I’ve seen him hit in a long time.”

The Citi Open has brought friends together in its final weekend. Put a net between them and a tournament title up for grabs, and those friends can quickly become foes.

“Sometimes it’s hard to play a close friend,” Fish added. “You sort of have to put it in perspective and say, ‘Okay. This is a guy that’s trying to take my lunch away tomorrow, and I’m going to beat him any way I can.’”