Querrey said the draw also felt open two weeks ago at the Masters-level event in Cincinnati, where there were two first-time Masters finalists, Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios. That tournament proved a precursor to the opportunities that could emerge with so many of the game’s top stars injured. Along with Murray’s long-term injuries, fourth-ranked Stan Wawrinka, fifth-ranked Novak Djokovic and 10th-ranked Kei Nishikori have all shut down the remainder of their seasons. Milos Raonic, ranked 11th, also pulled out of the U.S. Open before it began.
“Kind of a freak year with all these injuries,” said Querrey, 29, who has never made it past the fourth round of the Open. “Everyone is trying to do the best they can to make the best of a good situation for the rest of us, I guess you’d call it.”
On Sunday, Querrey will face 27th-ranked Mischa Zverev, who knocked out 10th-seeded John Isner.
Zverev, 30, has advanced at least one round further than his higher-ranked brother, Alexander. He is in the fourth round at a major for only the second time. But Zverev cited his struggles against 710th-ranked Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in a first-round five-setter as a sign that rankings were not predictive, but rather temporary temperature readings of a player’s form.
“Someone that’s going to be now in the quarters or semis at the U.S. Open this year might be the next top-five player 14 months from now or something,” he said. “A ranking is something, yeah, that says something about an opponent. But in the end, everybody is improving their game. There’s new people coming.”
The draw certainly looks more inviting to Zverev than when he reached the fourth round at the Australian Open this year. He beat the top-seeded Murray, then had to face Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Here, he has to beat Querrey for a shot to face either 28th-seeded Kevin Anderson or 40th-ranked Paolo Lorenzi, who is in his first Grand Slam round of 16 at age 35.
The highest-seeded man in the bottom half of the draw is now 12th-seeded Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, who had reached a Grand Slam fourth round only once before. He has faced qualifiers in his first three rounds, and on Sunday, he will play another one, the Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.
The winner of that match will meet Schwartzman, a 25-year-old Argentine, in the fourth round of a major for the first time, or 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France.
Pouille beat Rafael Nadal a year ago here to reach the…