WIMBLEDON -- This one had an uneasy air of inevitability.
Californian Sam Querrey walked off Court No. 1 on Friday night with a stunning two-set lead on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. But when they reappeared in the glaring light of Saturday afternoon -- as sometimes happens -- things looked a lot different.
After a night to sleep on it, reality dawned and both players initially reverted to familiar form. But something funny happened on the way to a predictable Djokovic comeback victory.
Actually, Sam Querrey happened -- in a spectacular way that he never quite has. For one day, anyway, he is Grand Sam.
In a disjointed match interrupted four times by rain, Querrey stunned Djokovic 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5). It was, by consensus, one of the greatest upsets in recent Grand Slam history. And in the process, it ruined a host of glorious possibilities for the Serbian star.
"It's incredible, especially to do it here at Wimbledon," Querrey said minutes after the victory. "I'm so ecstatic and happy."
Thus, Djokovic's streak of 30 Grand Slam match-victories comes to an abrupt end. There will be no fifth straight major title or a calendar-year Slam, either.
The last time Djokovic went out in the third round of a major was seven years ago, at the 2009 French Open.
The critical difference against Djokovic? Querrey saved 14 of 17 break points -- amazing, considering he was opposite against the world's best return man.
He also hit 31 aces and only two double faults. Thirty-nine percent of his serves went unreturned.
"He played a terrific match," Djokovic said afterward. "He served very well, as he usually he does. That part of his game was brutal today. He made a lot of free points. He just overpowered me."
Just like Serena Williams, who seemed to succumb to the pressure of chasing history at least year's US Open, Djokovic seemed constantly out of sorts and out of character. Three of the last four points in the pivotal tiebreaker were unforced errors on his part.
Yet he denied that he was feeling the pressure of the moment.
"I don't think it played that big of a factor, to be honest," he said. "I knew it was going to be very close.
"I managed to win four Grand Slams in row in two different seasons, though. I want to focus on that, rather than failure."
Djokovic said he wasn't 100 percent healthy but declined to elaborate.
"Not really," he said, "but it's not the place and time to talk about it. Just wasn't feeling the ball as well as I wished. But that's sport."
The casual tennis fan wandering into Saturday's match might wonder just who is Sam Querrey?
A brief biography: Querrey turned professional in 2006 at the age of 19 and, riding a big serve and forehand, has reached the fourth round at three majors. His best career ranking came in January 2011, and he has made a comfortable living, collecting seven titles and more than $6 million in prize money.
"When he's out hitting balls in practice -- you can hear the force of his shots by the sound -- there aren't many guys hitting bigger," observed Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of USTA player development from 2008-14. "But he hasn't always had the confidence in his backhand that he has in his forehand.
"I feel he's sometimes hesitant to play big-man tennis."
To put it mildly, Querrey has, in the past, been less than his best in the crucible of the fifth set. Before Saturday, he had lost 10 of 14 five-set matches. But the only time he lost after winning the first two sets came earlier this year at the Australian Open against Dusan Lajovic. After Lajovic won the third and fourth sets, Querrey retired when cramps set in.
But here in the first round, Querrey's less-under-pressure narrative appeared to change. He dropped the first two sets to Lukas Rosol, then came back to win 12-10 in the fifth.
"He was playing with such confidence," McEnroe added. "I think what we saw goes back to his first-round match."
The last U.S. player to beat a world No. 1 at Wimbledon was recently turned American citizen (and South African native) Kevin Curren, who defeated John McEnroe 31 years ago in a 1985 quarterfinal. The last American to beat the No. 1 in a Grand Slam was Andre Agassi, when he upset Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 US Open semifinals.
Querrey reversed two disturbing trends with one victory. He's now 1-8 against the No. 1-ranked player and 1-9 versus top-10 players at Grand Slams.
As a result, the draw has suddenly opened up, and Querrey next plays No. 51-ranked Nicolas Mahut in the fourth round. In theory, he could face No. 6 seed Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals. Afterward, he didn't want to think about it.
"I'm just taking it one round at a time," Querrey said. "I'm just happy with this, taking it from there."