Sam Querrey broke his silence for the first time since the ATP determined the 33-year-old American had acted “contrary to the integrity of the game under the Player Major Offense provision in the ATP Code of Conduct,” resulting in a suspended fine of $20,000 pending six months without a repeat offense.
Querrey was playing the St. Petersburg Open in October when he and wife Abby tested positive for the novel coronavirus. After initially quarantining at the tournament hotel with their seven-month-old son Ford, the 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist chartered a private jet out of Russia when doctors attempted to diagnose the severity of their illness.
“We feel safe, we’re in the tournament hotel, all is good,” Querrey recalled in an exclusive interview with Jon Wertheim on Sports Illustrated.
“Then two days in, around 8 p.m., I got a call from one of the ATP supervisors: ‘Hey, you guys are no longer welcome to stay at the hotel, and two doctors are gonna come to your room, one for you and your wife, and a pediatric doctor for your baby. And they’re going to determine whether you are symptomatic or not, and if you’re symptomatic, the three of you are going to a hospital for a minimum of two weeks.”
Fearing separation in a foreign country, Querrey first negotiated with ATP supervisors to postpone the late-night visit to the following morning before circumventing the process entirely — flying to London before doctors could arrive at the hotel.
“In my opinion, we didn’t really put anyone in danger, we kept to ourselves, we had two masks on; we did everything we possibly could in that journey to minimize exposure to anyone, and frankly, I think we did a great job. Talking to doctors [afterwards] they were like, ‘Look, you guys did a great job of doing that, and I can’t simply see how you would have passed it along to anyone during that trip.’”
Querrey, who described experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, spent the subsequent fortnight quarantined at an Airbnb in London as the story became international news.
“I didn't feel how it was portrayed after that was fair. I didn't refuse doctors who were at the door, I simply asked for them to come the next day—and they agreed to that. I read we were offered a luxury apartment…We were offered an apartment but they wouldn’t tell me where it was, how we were going to get food, and we were offered that apartment if these doctors determined that the three of us were not symptomatic.”
The former world No. 11 will play his first tournament since St. Petersburg at the Delray Beach Open, which he won back in 2016, and though frustrated by the media’s portrayal of the incident, is satisfied by the ATP ruling and eager to return to action after a “normal” off-season.
“I'm trying to not set expectations too high. I feel like I've worked really hard the last six, seven weeks in the gym and on the court. But that doesn’t always mean you’re going to go to Australia and make a run. Hopefully we put that in the work for the year, but I’m excited to go out and play.”
As the No. 6 seed in Delray Beach, Querrey will play his first match against fellow American Mackenzie McDonald, with top seed Cristian Garin looming as his projected quarterfinal opponent.