On the eve of the Paris Masters, Jack Sock’s chances of qualifying for the elite eight-man event in London were very slim. Standing at #24 in the Race, the American won the Masters title in the French capital and secured the final spot of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.
Jack Sock’s O2 experience has been wonderful thus far, and it started with a tight loss to overwhelming favourite Roger Federer. A stunning three-set win over Marin Cilic kept his hopes alive before he defeated Alexander Zverev to claim a spot in the semifinals. I was fortunate enough to be witness the match against Zverev in the stadium and I was even more lucky to see Jack Sock at his best.
Exciting Playing Style
When the announcer introduced both players to the court I first noticed how much more support the young German seemed to have. The sound when Zverev walked out was astounding, and I assumed the crowd would carry the World #3 over the line. After having only watched a few games, the support seemed to gravitate towards Jack Sock as he displayed his explosive all-court game, which the crowd grew fond of. The American is one of the few players at the top of the game who can effectively use both power and touch, which makes his game so refreshing and fun to watch; it is also the reason he is gaining so many new fans.
His ability to play in all areas of the court is down to his doubles pedigree. The American won the 2014 Wimbledon Doubles title, so he is able to successfully transfer these skills into his singles game. Sock is a breath of fresh air because he has so many dimensions to his game so he can play on instinct. The World #9 has an absolute rocket of a forehand that is hit with a ferocious amount of top spin. Sock’s volleys are equally as impressive, which opens up many options for him. His nickname growing up was “Showtime” and you can certainly see why.
An aspect of his game that really impressed me was the way he is able to protect his only weakness: the backhand. Alexander Zverev has one of the best backhands on tour and you would think he would have an easy time locating the Sock weakness. The American was able to counter this in numerous intelligent ways. He positions himself slightly more to the left of the court than most players because he is able to run around the backhand to hit forehands more effectively. You may think that this is a risky tactic because he leaves so much space for his opponent to attack but the American is so quick that his is able to cover that space with ease–the space to attack is also the Sock forehand, which is his major strength.
The American also possesses a deadly slice backhand that works particularly well on these low bouncing indoor courts. This slice backhand frustrated Zverev because it broke up his rhythm and he could not attack off of it. It also slowed the pace of the game down, which allowed Sock more time to run around the backhand and unleash a heavy forehand. As a result of how well Sock can protect his backhand, it puts his opponents under so much pressure to get the ball in the tiny space that is the American’s backhand and this draws many errors. The way he is able to manage his weaker shot turns his weakness into somewhat of a strength.
Jack Sock is a major threat to all the players here. Just ask World #5 Marin Cilic and World #3 Alexander Zverev. Even the highest ranked player left, Roger Federer, experienced difficulties against the popular American. By watching from the stadium, I could really see the intensity that Sock bought to the court against Zverev. He really believed that he should be winning and that is the attitude you need to have to be at this event.
When times were really tough in that match he found a way to produce his best tennis, which is why he is a Masters champion. The American is also extremely courageous under pressure and he is not afraid to go for his shots on the biggest points–he plays to win. With Sock, it seems like the bigger the occasion the better he plays, and this creates a lethal player to battle the world’s best.
Semifinalist In His Debut
With his superb win over Alexander Zverev, the 25-year-old secured a place in the last four. He also became the first American since Andy Roddick in 2007 to qualify for the semifinals of the season ending championships. Jack Sock is a big match player and he has performed superbly in all three matches here on his debut.
His opponent in the semifinals will be fellow debutant, Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian has also been in stellar form so far and this match will be hotly anticipated. The American leads the head-to-head 3-1 so there is a massive opportunity for Sock to make the final. The Paris champion leads 2-1 on hard courts and each of these three meetings went the distance, so an epic could be on the cards here in London. A title here could see Sock climb as high as #4 in the World, and the American sees a huge chance to make this happen.
Jack Sock has been a revelation in London and he is attracting new fans after every shot he plays. He has an exciting playimg style that is fluid and instinctive, which makes him so watchable. The American is a major threat to every player here and rightly so, as he has made the semifinals inn his debut. Jack Sock has set the ATP Finals alight.