Nov/17

5

Was this the long-awaited singles breakout by Sock?

sock

By Scoop Malinowski

For years now Jack Sock has thrilled tennis observers with his firepower, potential and special capacity to play his best tennis in some of the biggest events like Wimbledon, US Open and the Olympics.

Sock’s signature performances all were achieved in the doubles arena – but that all changed today when Sock won the prestigious Paris Indoors Masters 1000 title 67 64 61 vs Filip Krajinovic.

Suddenly Sock has vaulted up the rankings from 22 all the way to 8, and into the ATP World Tour Finals next week in London.

Sock winning a Masters 1000 title is a monumental achievement. Keep in mind Yevgeny Kafelnikov, winner of two majors, an Olypmic singles gold medal and Davis Cup, never won a Masters Series title in his illustrious career.

It took a long while but finally the 25-year-old Sock appears to have matured, developed and figured out the ATP World Tour puzzle pieces and how they fit together to capture significant singles titles.

The big forehand, serve, variety, drop shots, backhand slices, net rushes and point construction are all working in unison and when they are Sock has the arsenal to slay dragons, any dragons out there.

There has been major hints in recent months of a balance of power shift in the ATP, with the elite pantheon aging and showing signs of decline – and plenty of younger, heavily armed revolutionaries ready to seize power in the ATP top ten.

Sock is in prime position to continue a massive assault and charge up the rankings to the top five in 2018 – or perhaps even next week in London if he can string together a few wins which would vault him further up the rankings above and beyond 8.

There has been a lot of doubts, a lot of criticism and skepticism about Sock’s potential as a singles player but all of that cynicism has been completely silenced today.

Winning his first Grand Slam singles title in 2018 just became a very achievable goal for Sock and you better believe every man in the ATP top hundred now views Sock as a serious Grand Slam singles title contender.

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123 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Front 242, it's way too early to write off Sock who has continued his unusual career track of monumental historic wins spaced by periods of mediocrity. If and when Sock galvanizes all his attributes with experience and inspiration from his new love, I fully expect his best results to be ahead. If you want to write off Sock as a lucky clown with a few fluke wins in majors and Olympics, that's your call. I'm sticking with mine, more confident than ever that Sock will continue to achieve great successes in the ATP.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Chung has a ton more experience than Denis and with these 3-3 tiebreakers anything can happen. I think if they shorten the set to 3-3 they should extend the tiebreaker to 10. Tomic won vs Berankis in Bratislav and Fritz beat Double Mac in Knoxville and I just got a great interview with Leif Shiras about his 1988 Detroit win vs 17 yr old Pete Sampras. For Facing Sampras to be published in early 2018.

  • Federberg · November 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    do you think that Sock has greater upside than Dimitrov for example?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Yes I do think Sock has the bigger upside. He's won two Grand Slam doubles titles, dubs at Wimbledon and mixed at US Open and also two medals in doubles at the Olympics, silver and gold and a Masters Series. Dimitrov has only won smaller singles titles. Not saying Dimitrov can't get hot and win a major, because he can. But I think Sock is the better player and more likely to win a major singles title despite the fact that Dimitrov, so far, has gone deeper into the second week than Sock has in majors. Do you think Dimitrov is the more likely to win a GS singles, Federerberger?

  • Federberg · November 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Lol! Not that it's my name… but Federberg is you please. Yes I most certainly think that Dimitrov has greater upside in singles than Sock. There is simply no evidence that Sock can go deep in a fully populated tournament, forget about slams there's simply no comparison there. I actually like Sock, I just don't see what you're seeing. In terms of raw talent Dimitrov beats him hands down, Sock has virtually no backhand, he doesn't have the footwork or court speed that Grigor has. In terms of mentality I don't see much of a different between the two for now to be honest. I'll give you doubles, but in singles? There's really no comparison at the moment. I hope one day that both step up. But if I had to bet on one or the other? I'll go with Grigor

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Okay I will try to remember your name accurately but Federerbergermeister would have been a cooler name :) Sock leads Dimitrov 3-1, with three straight wins at French Open, two Masters and Super G won in Stockholm the first time they played 2014. Looks like Sock has proven his superiority over Dimitrov but Dimitrov could settle the score next week at WTF.

  • Federberg · November 7, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    scoop said:

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Okay I will try to remember your name accurately but Federerbergermeister would have been a cooler name :) Sock leads Dimitrov 3-1, with three straight wins at French Open, two Masters and Super G won in Stockholm the first time they played 2014. Looks like Sock has proven his superiority over Dimitrov but Dimitrov could settle the score next week at WTF.Click to expand…

    Haha! Maybe I'll use that name next time! The H2H is interesting to know, but as I've argued several times on this forum, H2H is a flawed way of assessing the capabilities of players. They need to be assessed against the field, which normalises for any match up issues. I'll admit I'm surprised by the H2H, but when their careers are done, no one's going to care a hoot about how they fared against each other. It's always going to be about their career achievements. I'm not surprised about the Sock wins on clay though. I do think his game is designed for clay, while Grigor's is designed for faster courts. Now that you've raised the whole Sock issue, I find myself hoping their in the same group! It's not a match I would have cared about before, but if they do play I"ll give it special attention

  • Front242 · November 7, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    scoop said:

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Front 242, it's way too early to write off Sock who has continued his unusual career track of monumental historic wins spaced by periods of mediocrity. If and when Sock galvanizes all his attributes with experience and inspiration from his new love, I fully expect his best results to be ahead. If you want to write off Sock as a lucky clown with a few fluke wins in majors and Olympics, that's your call. I'm sticking with mine, more confident than ever that Sock will continue to achieve great successes in the ATP.Click to expand…

    When did I ever say anything about fluke wins in majors, scoop? He's clearly a very good doubles player but you're claiming he'll win 2 slams next year? in singles! I mean, no offense but that's beyond insane. I doubt he'll ever win a slam in singles but you're free to dream. No harm done there. One last time, he had no Federer, no Nadal, no Djokovic and no Murray to contend with at the Paris masters and beat a qualifier in the final who had played a TON of consecutive matches. A little bit of realistic perspective wouldn't go astray…

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I think Sock gets one, the second one was a jab of humor because it seems to irk some people about saluting Sock and praising his achievements which some like to discredit or downplay.

  • Busted · November 7, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Sock's got about as much chance of winning the WTF as I do. Actually, let me correct myself – .his chances are slightly better than mine due to the fact that he's actually entered in the tourney. I would put him as the 8th favorite. If Nadal drops out and Carreno Busta plays I'll bump him up to #7.

  • Busted · November 7, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Front242 said:

    Bandwagon much? :p With Murray and Djokovic back shortly and the others also improving the only major I see for him next year is major disappointment. If Sock wins 2 majors or even 1 (neither of which will happen) next year, I'll gladly quit my job, sell my house, car and everything else I own. But it won't happen. He got lucky this week with no Federer, no Nadal, no Djokovic and no Murray and that's all there is to it. He seized the opportunity and good for him.Click to expand…

    I'll join you – in quitting YOUR JOB and selling YOUR HOUSE and other belongings. If Sock ever wins a major in his entire career it'll be because nobody else showed up. – or it's another US Open 2017 glorified 250 event. As you noted – Sock won Paris for the very same reason Dimitrov won Cincy – the big kahunas were all MIA because of injury or losing early. Let's see if either of those guys repeats next year.

  • Busted · November 7, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Huh? I see 4 guys who can win a major next year – Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray. Actually – I see 2 who can win a Slam and 2 who can win one if they're not injured. Flip a coin as to which 2 guys are which. I saw highlights of the MurrayFederer charity match from today. Murray doesn't look like a guy who'll be ready for a Slam in 3 months time. He was still visibly favoring one side. Roger took it easy on him since it was his event.

    Zverev has yet to prove he can even make it to the 2nd week. Kid'll break through sooner or later, but who's to say it'll be next year.

    DelPo's a mystery. Can he win 7 5-set matches if he has 3 tough matches back-to-back-to-back?

    Kyrgios is an even bigger mystery. Will he be motivated enough to care when he's playing someone not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic? Better yet – will he ever grow the hell up? Not holding my breath on the latter…

    Cilic? I expect him to take a steep nosedive next year.

    Ditto on the nosedive for Stan, too. He was a headcase before Magnus Norman, a headcase with Norman and will be an even bigger headcase without Norman.

    Thiem's only shot is the FO…and I don't see that happening unless Nadal and Djokovic are injured and don't play.

    Nishikori, Tsonga, Raonic, Dimitrov – and I'll grow in Berdych – all co-captaining the Titanic. The Slam ship hit an iceberg for those 4 long ago. The ships's slowly been sinking to the bottom of the ocean for years now. The only reason Dimitrov is Top 10 this year is because of all the injuries. I don't see him in the Top 10 at the end of 2018.

  • Moxie · November 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Federerbergmeister…I love that! While I won't jump on the Sock bandwagon, I will argue, for the sake of it, the relative gifts of Dimitrov v. Sock. Let's face it: Grigor and Jack both won a MS because of an attrition of the field. What I don't like about Dimitrov is that he's had so many chances that he should have done better with. He's got a lot of talent, but a 50 cent head. Sock may not have all of the gifts, but I think he's mentally tougher. Or maybe works harder because he doesn't feel like he can coast on the talent, which I really think Dimitrov does. If I were betting the mortgage, I'd still have to go with Dimitrov. But as a fan, I'm inclined to pull for Sock. I'm fully done investing any emotion into Grigor. He's a reasonably talented slacker.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 7, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    All you Sock skeptics should start a club, SockSkeptics. Try saying that eight times in a row :) I think you have to look at the progression of Sock's career, a slow steady climb up to the elite echelon, with several drops and slumps along the way, but still a steady rise to now a prestigious slot in the WTF. There's no reason to think Sock's rise will suddenly stop and nosedive. I see it continuing to ascend. for the next 5-8 years.

  • El Dude · November 7, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    I think your "huh" is based upon missing that I listed players that I see as being more likely to win a major than Sock, not players that I think have a good chance at winning a major.

  • catherine · November 8, 2017 at 5:13 am

    This is not about Jack Sock.

    Federer seen practising at Queen’s Club the other day, giving mobile phone photo ops to a couple of small fans – does anyone do autographs nowadays ?

    Then to Glasgow for exo with Andy – Federer in a kilt !
    I think Andy will be struggling with his hip injury over a few tournaments next year. He’s a long way from match fitness.

  • jg · November 8, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Murray looked like he was having trouble with his hip especially going to the forehand side, I wonder if he needs surgery, he did not appear to be moving correctly. He may have been rusty but the movement is way off.

  • Chazz · November 8, 2017 at 10:04 am

    How Sock won Paris means more than who he beat. It was not won in his usual way. If that was him turning the corner, the best is yet to come.

    As for Murray (physical) and Djoker (mental), I am skeptical that either of them will ever get back to where they were.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Andy said the experts advised him not to have surgery. He also said he is back to about 75- 80%, so I think that is good news.

  • catherine · November 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Jg – what what I’ve heard Murray is adamant about not needing surgery. So we’ll just have to see how things turn out when tournaments start. He may feel that surgery at his age might finish his career.

  • Hartt · November 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

    In Milan today Khachanov played well and had an easy win over Donaldson.

    But Chung had a great win over Rublev. Rublev may have been tired after a tough match (5 sets) yesterday and a late night, but Chung played wonderful tennis – very consistent throughout the match. He moves very well, returns well, and keeps getting one more ball back, much to Rublev’s frustration.

    So, with his win yesterday over Shapo, today’s victory put Chung into the SFs.

  • Chazz · November 8, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Wow, Donaldson and Chung have gone in opposite directions lately. I hope Shapovalov gets it together today.

  • Duke Carnoustie · November 8, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I think Scoop is right. Sock will win two Slams next year.

    If I am wrong and this doesn’t happen, Scoop will run naked during the HOF ceremony in Newport 2019.

  • Duke Carnoustie · November 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Here’s something else to consider about this year. Zverev broke through and won a couple Masters. Sock won his first.

    These guys are both buddies with Mr. Nick Kyrgios. And we saw that Kyrgios did OK this year with two wins over Novak, a Masters finals loss to Dimitrov and some David Cup heroics.

    But I believe deep down the success of Zverev and Sock will ignite Kyrgios. He knows he is at worst on par with those guys. Now both are in the top 10 – someplace Nick has yet to reach.

    Mark it down, just like Scoop is telling you Sock will win Slams in 2018, the Duke says Kyrgios will win SW19.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I have a sense that Kygios is going to go all in next year and try to fulfill his potential. The joking allegations against Mirka is basically drawing the battles lines with Roger. It shows that Nick is willing to poke Roger though he said he was joking I think he was serious, and all humor is based on truth, that's why it's funny. Poking Roger is just about blasphemy. I like that Nick is being assertive and aggressive and showing that he is ready to challenge the top dogs, physically and psychologically. I also see Nick, Sock and Zverev making a BIG push to topple the ruling elite in 2018.

  • catherine · November 9, 2017 at 2:33 am

    The AO is going to be interesting with Djokovic coming back, Murray being tested etc. Failures on the part of Murray and Djokovic will affect the way their careers go.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Jack Sock will win a GS tournament in 2018 :)

  • Hartt · November 9, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Zverev, by winning two Masters and getting to No. 3 in the rankings at the age of 20, is already pushing at the top elite. Whether he can topple any of them next year remains to be seen, but it would not come as a big surprise.

    But that is as much because the top guys are vulnerable. They have not retired, but the injuries all are suffering, ones that keep them off the Tour for months at a time, are signs that age is catching up with them. Or, in Fed’s case, he is managing by playing a very limited schedule, choosing to bypass the entire clay season.

    As far as Kyrgios and Sock go, it would be a big surprise if either has dramatic results next season. By dramatic I mean winning a Slam or more than 1 Masters and making it to the top 4. In other words, matching what Sascha did this year.

    With injuries potentially having such a big impact on a player’s season I no longer make predictions for the coming year. But I hope that Sascha does win a Slam. I also hope that some of the youngsters, such as Shapo, Tiafoe and Chung, have good results and make the top 30, if not higher. Tennis needs new faces in the mix.

  • catherine · November 9, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Serena is back in training and posting aggressive pictures of herself on Instagram hoping to frighten her opponents ahead of AO :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    If Serena feels the need to try to intimidate the other players could be a sign of weakness. The frightened dog barks the loudest :)

  • Hartt · November 9, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Just saw an exciting match between Shapovalov and Rublev. It was extremely close, with Rublev winning the fifth set TB. Both guys were very aggressive, giving it everything they had.

    Am not a fan of the short sets. They seem to just start and then there is a TB at 3-3. And a TB can easily go either way.

  • Duke Carnoustie · November 9, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Catherine

    The X-factors are Serena and Novak.

    I don’t think Serena is scared, I think she is sending a message that she will reclaim her turf. She’s ranked 22. We know that is fake news. She will finish ’18 on top for sure.

    Novak is the guy who has to see that the field really isn’t that great. Yes Fed and Rafa dominated but not having their great rival there was huge. We know Novak has now fallen behind in terms of slams but we also know what he is capable of doing.

    I say Novak seizes two Slams in ’18.

    Sock is capable but I do think in a Slam he needs a favorable draw. I don’t see him winning big-money matches in a row against the likes of Sascha, Nadal, Murray and Novak.

  • Joe Blow · November 9, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Lots of coaches fired on this site as soon as their player loses two matches in a row. Where’s the love for Jay Berger, maybe he deserves some credit for Sock!s turnaround?

  • catherine · November 10, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Duke – I was joking about Serena (my British sense of humour ?) – I don’t think she’s in the least afraid. She likes being visible in social media and she’s posted just as many baby pictures recently. Maybe she’s saying – look, I can do both.

    The thing about Djokovic is if his elbow breaks down again I think it’s finis. If it’s ok, then he’s a player.

    Joe Blow – people are always looking for a quick fix. Dump the coach seems easy. We don’t know what goes on.
    Kerber should have dumped Torben by now, but she hasn’t and she won’t because she’s pychologically quite conservative and such a big change could makes things worse.
    Goes for a number of players, men and women.

    On the other hand Julia Goerges appears to have chucked her old team overboard and it worked for her.

  • catherine · November 10, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Hartt – I think lots of these wheezes are silly, change for the sake of it, and won’t translate to the main game. At least I hope not.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2017 at 5:07 am

    They say that these changes at the Next Gen tourney are a trial only and if they do make any big changes it won’t be for many years. The most likely change to happen soon is the shot clock and it sounds like that could be introduced in 2019. The players like it, it tells them exactly where they are at. And the ump can start it a bit later if there is a lot of crowd noise, etc. Concerns about fans counting down the time seem unfounded.

    The change these players have had trouble with is the shorter warm-up and being in place in time to serve. Poor Khachanov got a time violation warning before his match even started, and other players have had close calls.

    I like a couple of the proposed changes, like the shot clock and the no lets on serve, but hate others, especially the new format for sets and no ad scoring. Both those changes make each point so crucial that luck becomes more of a factor. The powers that be think it makes the game more exciting, but the poor players seem even more stressed than normal.

  • catherine · November 10, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Hartt – yes, although I haven’t been watching the NextGen I tend to agree with your points. Especially the players getting more stressed The rules of tennis are there for a reason – too much alteration and you’ve got a different sport.

    The ATP and other bodies seem to be excercised over the age-group of tennis TV watchers – too old. But how many young people actually sit around watching sport on TV these days ? And tennis is a fragmented, international sport – it’s never going to get the viewing figures in the US of football, baseball, basketball. So that’s a chimera, a big youthful audience.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2017 at 6:35 am

    I suppose the powers that be are worried that when the older generation of fans dies there won’t be enough fans to replace them.

    And they are super concerned about what will happen when Fed and Rafa are no longer playing. But I think other superstars will come along. They may not have quite the same fandom as Fed gets, but they will still generate excitement. We are already seeing that with Shapovalov. Although I like Denis and have even followed his career since he was 15, am still a bit bewildered by his popularity as an 18-year-old ranked No. 51. But he seems to have “it,” young fans in Milan were chanting “Denis,” pronouncing it like a French name.

    As far as TV goes, I think you are right, young viewers won’t be watching a lot no matter what changes they make. I hear that even the NFL is not doing as well, much to everyone’s surprise. In tennis they can cut down on the times nothing much is happening, when players are basically futzing about. And I have to admit that having Hawk-eye calling the lines did move things along. But major changes affect the very nature of the sport.

  • catherine · November 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

    A bit peremptory above – should be ‘maybe Kerber could consider dispensing with Torben Beltz if she wants to improve on this year’s sub-par performance’…

    That’s more polite :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 10, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Losing Fed and Rafa has to be a major concern by the ATP and ITF and the apparent rush to build Shapovalov into a superstar is understandable. He is the most exciting of all the young players. I think tennis will be in good shape post Fedal. Sock is about to emerge into a superstar. Kyrgios is on the cusp too. Chung will be the Asian kingpin though he can be a legit top five and major champion too. Zverev is also on the cusp, with the other young Russians not far behind. I expect to see one or more of these young players to shockingly upset Fed and or Nadal in majors in 2018.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Not sure if Berger deserves much credit. Did Sock say anything in particular that Berger has done for upping his game? It seems the inspiration of the new girlfriend is the big difference maker for Sock. If Sock publicly credited Berger for helping his game in the last two weeks, please someone share those quotes here. (Haven't seen those quotes)

  • Moxie · November 10, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Scoop, you old romantic! I can't believe you're going to credit the influence of a new girlfriend over a coach on a players game.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Ryan Harrison did well to make the WTF in doubles, along with his partner, New Zealander Michael Venus.

    I like the way London puts the spotlight on the doubles matches, pairing a doubles match with a singles. Bet some fans go just for the singles and are blown away by how entertaining doubles matches are.

  • catherine · November 10, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Did Sock make any reference to his girlfriend as his inspiration ?
    I feel sorry for coaches. Life’s so unfair :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 10, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Yes, Sock said it was the first extended trip with his new gf. Berger has been coaching Sock for most of the year, with only lousy results to show. If Berger suddenly found the secret tonic for Sock's game don't you think Sock would have noted it or credited Berger for it?

  • Chazz · November 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    It is possible Berger did some techniques to improve Sock’s mental toughness. Or, having his girlfriend there could have helped him mentally because he doesn’t want to have a meltdown in front of her. Or, he just got mentally stronger on his own. We’ll never know. All I know is the Sock in Paris was much more enjoyable to watch than the Sock from March through October.

    There are so many ATP/WTA players that are trending upward or downward right now, it will be interesting to see what happens when things pick up again in January.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    In a NY Times article Sock said he had some off-court problems that affected his play in the middle of the season. He did not elaborate.

  • Duke Carnoustie · November 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Sock said he was excited about his first road trip with Micaela. Basically said little about Berger. Berger has been part of the Davis Cup setup so not like is a new voice. I think the truth is Sock is on the ascendancy. Clay season is never going to be great for him – he was fine in Feb and March too.

    I’d give little to no credit to Berger. Nice guy and good guy but just a familiar USTA face that really is not a top-notch coach for a player intent on winning Slams.

  • GameSetAndMath · November 10, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    OK. I get the moral of the story. One should find a new girlfriend before every major ATP tournament. :lulz2:

  • Joe Blow · November 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    It must be really hard for top ten ATP players to meet girls

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I remember seeing Berger hovering around the practice court at Sarasota Open five years ago, with shades on and racquet in hand, observing Sock and Johnson practicing, he was on Sock's side. So he's been around Sock a long time. They must have a good connection. But let's wait if Sock salutes Berger for his coaching acumen and technical adjustments. Until then the gf's inspiration gets the majority of the credit.

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