Nov/19

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Jack Sock Vows: I will be back and better than ever

Jack Sock vowed on Instagram yesterday that he intends to not only regain his top ten form but to be even better.

The currently formerly singles ranked American has made the bold declaration a week after losing all of his ATP singles points because he has not managed to win one singles match all year (not counting the Laver Cup win vs Fognini) due to substandard form and a thumb injury.

It will be a very long and difficult road back for Sock to regain his lost prominence and prestige on the Futures and Challenger circuits but it’s good to see that Sock is pumping himself up to salvage his wrecked career.

If Sock is to reverse his ATP fortunes he will need to employ a different work ethic and seriousness. He will have to change his diet, he will have to train harder on and off the court, he will need to stop playing silly games on practice courts, he will need to abandon goofing around with trick shots.

Sock will need to dismiss his entire team and start over with new faces and new voices, preferably a former player who has endured a similar adversity. One figure that comes to mind is Andre Agassi. Another is Vince Spadea.

A great champion like Jack Sock can never be counted out. He’s just 27, he has the capacity and weaponry to win doubles majors and threaten the top players in singles – if he’s at his best. At his worst he can lose to Sekou Bangoura.

Hopefully Sock is busy backing up his big words as we speak. Hopefully Sock has already trained for a couple of hours this morning. Hopefully he will train for five more hours later today and hit the gym after.

Hopefully he will adopt a Guillermo Vilas type work ethic where he will work for six straight days to fix a weakness, or practice a certain shot for eight hours straight. Or like Lleyton Hewitt, schedule and reserve a practice court (in San Jose) two weeks in advance.

If Sock thinks he can make it back to the top of tennis with the same work ethic he has utilized for the last two years, he may fall woefully short of achieving his latest goal, the bold vow to come roaring back to the ATP top ten and to be even better than he has ever shown.

281 comments

  • Jon King · November 8, 2019 at 11:25 am

    With Sock’s weapons he does not need anything so dramatic as all day work outs. Simply changing his diet, cutting out the horseplay, and working a typical pro player off season training regiment will be enough. The guy beat Fabio while playing with a pot belly.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Jon, Fog tanked that Laver Cup match I believe to keep it close, not a real win. Sock needs to overcompensate for his poor work ethic habits and completely reverse it and become the hardest worker in the ATP. He can’t afford to half ass this comeback. He has to go ALL OUT.

  • Jon King · November 8, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    I hear you Scoop. I ran a fitness center for 20 years and sometimes it happens. The laziest people become the hardest working fitness devotees. From one extreme to the other.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Yes good living, good health, smart nutrition and education becomes addictive. Lots of inspiration stories of very overweight people becoming super fit or marathoners. Very easy in this world with the phony food pyramids and temptations to get overweight.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 8, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    If I were Sock, I’d hire a real coach, Agassi and Spadea are not real coaches, they are guys who made it big and moderately on the tour, but they’re not going to do the grinding day to day work of a real coach. Then I’d not travel with my girlfriend. Sock has to get hungry. Traveling with a girlfriend who doesn’t get the pro tour does not help. You go out for fancy dinners. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I’d live a more acetic life and make tennis my muse. Easier said than done for a guy who’s seen Paris and is 27 years old.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Dan, they could be really helpful coaches. They have a lot to offer. When did Brad Gilbert become a real coach? He was not a real coach when Agassi hired him but he proved he could coach. Give Spadea the chance, he could prove himself like Gilbert did. One thing is for sure, Sock has to make major changes and he has to hire a new coach. He needs new information, a new plan, a new career mindset.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    For the anti instagramists…video from Tennis Australia on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/B4jQ8CRJB0o/
    Aussie player Priscilla Hon admits: “I’m literally on instagram all day.”

  • catherine · November 8, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    That’s an addiction. Priscilla needs help.

  • Andrew Miller · November 8, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Stefanki.

  • catherine · November 9, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Talking of IGs – Naomi O has posted an amusing clip of her attempts at negotiating a rocky route to the beach on holiday with her parents in Hokkaido. She creeps unsteadily down while her mother strolls along behind, no worries.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Agree with Dan. Hire a serious, battle tested coach. Or a serious battle tested coach you admire. He doesn’t have much time. Many US players have said oh look at Agassi coming back from challengers etc…that wasn’t quite how that went. Agassi had a top flight coach and had already been higher than any player that praises him for that comeback. His team never changed and he always had a sound coach.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Sock already knows what it takes to be top 10, he was there. He’s just lost his way. Yes a good coach like Stefanki would be a boost. Or a Mike Russell.

  • Jon King · November 9, 2019 at 10:05 am

    More than a coach, I think Sock just needs a trainer. And thats so easy to find. Pretty much every city has ex athletes who are amazing trainers. Heck we go to a soccer field 3 times a week to do fitness, 3 hours of all sorts of plyometrics, band work, medicine balls, agility, flexibility, speed training. There are always plenty of athletes from various sports there working on things with their trainers.

    Sock could work a good trainer and if he is diligent at his age, quickly get into the best shape of his life. After that any half decent coach would be enough because he has talent.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Jon’s point is good. Mardy Fish, with his wife’s encouragement, got in the best shape of his life and that got him to the year end finals that they are playing this week in London. First Lloyd Carroll called him a journeyman and then Fish and his wife got Fish to train like a madman.

    What I appreciate about that is the difference was noticeable. Fish didn’t look a hundred times better – he just handled every match from first to last point and stayed on target.

    On my wish list would be Sock, a ball machine, and his backhand, but I’ll settle for Sock at Peak Sock, bashing forehands, serves with a side order of strategic tennis.

    Stefanki approach would be what Jon said on fitness, plus making the backhand a rally plus shot, where it would stay steady under pressure AND win points offensively on occasion aka backhand winners, ability to approach off the backhand wing with more than a so so slice. Also slice better.

    All that will boost Sock confidence level.

    I appreciate when players decide they’ve had enough. Sock seems to have gotten the message that his performance has been bad. I’ll post more on this.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 11:17 am

    What punctures the bubble for players? For Sock, the delisting, injuries, return to challengers after five years firmly planted on the ATP tour, and of course losing to everyone everywhere or not even being capable of finishing a match against a peer like Bangoura, who last got a win on Sock at the 2010 Kalamazoo doubles final.

    Sock faced a situation that says basically “change or die”. To Sock’s credit he makes a brave statement, on par with Roddick’s past statements that he was in it to win a second slam (and was better for saying it, coming ever so close in 2009 in his epic Wimbledon final against Federer).

    Compare what Sock said with what other players say. It’s different. It’s one thing to say well I’ll do my best and not care about the rankings. Yeah? Well that’s Steve Johnson’s approach – Johnson’s doing better than Sock and isn’t in danger of falling off the rankings ladder. But Johnson’s had a bad year and has flirted with moving out of the top hundred, joining Harrison, DY, and others who seem to only vacation in the top fifty every few years before heading back to triple digit ranking territory.

    So, bold and courageous statement. If he lines up his effort with the mission and becomes more durable Sock will get a ranking and do better than he has this year. He’ll have to have a different mentality too, which is when game time starts you take no prisoners. After whistle blows be charitable.

    The wildcard is Sock’s ability to improve. At the point if he plays around his juniors weight and at the level he played in juniors he should get back to top two hundred. He has enough examples where others have done this such as Brad Klahn, who came back from oblivion, being out of top hundred from 2014 to 2018, then being within fifteen rankings of his career best (top 80 vs his career best in top 70).

    So guess it comes down to straight up desire: how much does Sock want this. The statement put the pressure on Sock, so that’s a good thing. Many players as Pete Bodo said, say the right things but then it’s a smokescreen. Sock’s always been different, much as Harrison, DY have been different – they know it’s better to be top fifty. Ask DY even today and he’d say it, regular full time ATP is what they all want.

    So, note this is a good thing Sock did.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Always pay attention when a player challenges themselves like this. This is an alpha move and something that Raonic would say, eg not hide their ambition. It’s something a less motivated player wouldn’t say.

    One thing is saying it another doing it. I’ve noticed Tsitsipas, throwing down the gauntlet this summer before Wimbeldon to his fellow next generation peers before losing to the same guy that toppled him last year at Wimbledon. So it blew up short term for Wimbledon and generally he had a bad summer. But was he wrong to make that challenge? I’d say it got too much attention for him and put an X on his back. I also believe others appreciated it like Medvedev, who didn’t say what Tsitsipas but took it to heart.

    It will be interesting to see whether Sock puts his money where his mouth is. If he does we’re in for a good future run from him.

    It’s also the kind of thing Fritz, Opelka should say when they’re ready.

  • Harold · November 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Sock should have tried to get in shape to win the USTA wildcard for the Aus.Open. They should not give him a WC, maybe into Qualies. He’s going to have to save WC’s for IW, and Miami. Gonna have to make some hay during the indoor 250’s and Challengers pre IW.

    He can make a great living playing doubles, but what happens when he’s still in a doubles draw, but needs to get to Qualies at the next Singles event? Partners better be accepting..

    Andrew, are you Stefanki’s agent?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Pretty sure Sock has used fitness trainers in the past, and you have to think he got in shape for summer hard courts and US Open but something went wrong. Maybe he actually is in shape but this is mere speculation, what if, nah I won’t go there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Harold, no Andrew is not Stefanki’s agent but he knows if Rios stayed with Stefanki he would have won four majors.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Stefanki was interesting on Rios – Rios at number one telling him he wanted to go in a new direction, Stefanki saying bluntly to Rios the only direction from here (number one) is down the rankings ladder!

    I am unapologetically pro Stefanki even if he turns out to be a coach that rides the fame of his players and does nothing but chew bubble gum while his players hit balls.

    Stefanki is wrong too about some things – he was wrong about Thiem and Massu (Massu is adding something to Thiem’s game in the competitor department) but not necessarily wrong as to whether Thiem is a better player with Massu when technically or strategy wise/tactics wise (looks the same to me!).

    I believe Stefanki is a coach players respect. He wins arguments on logic, convinced Roddick to shore up his backhand. Got Roddick to stay fit. Got Rios to stay focused.

    There are other good coaches. I believe when it comes to players like Sock, who have talent and coast on it, they need a guy like Stefanki who gets them to squeeze every atom of talent from their games. Or to add to it, whole new ballgame.

    Lendl does this. It isn’t that other coaches don’t say the same thing, but when Lendl says it players do it. When Lendl doesn’t like what he sees he walks. When Lendl doesn’t believe a player can pull it off he says forget it.

    If Sock were not motivated a la Federer who coached himself for a stretch then Id say Sock doesn’t need a coach. He does!!!

    Shriver might be a good coach, or someone like Gigi Fernandez. He could benefit from a female coach that knows the game inside out and can coach on dubs side.

    It doesn’t have to be Stefanki. But I think it cannot under any circumstances be a coach with no stature. For better or worse the US men’s players have a pride problem where they believe they are better than they are. Better players like Querrey and Isner don’t buy it and have steady coaches that are pretty good.

    The rest of them lowball it. Fritzy seems to have a clue. Opelka too somehow has caught on that coasting is stupid.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Could be a money thing. Possibly Sock can’t afford Stefanki. If so…grab Ginepri. Or hire Mal Washington. Or Courier, that doesn’t need Sock cash. Reach out to Sampras. Tim Mayotte. Any of them would have something for him
    Michael Joyce, but Joyce seems to believe or prefer only coaching womens players.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Rios and Stefanki could have gotten back to a slam final. And if it were Stefanki with Spadea, I think Spadea would have gotten top ten. Yes I believe that.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Basically, Stefanki and top ten or former top ten player = slam final. If with Berdych, another slam final. If with Chang I think Chang wins his second slam. If with Thiem today tough to say he might have topped out. Raonic, slam final.

    Only other coach with those capabilities, Gilbert (even more of a cherry picker!) Lendl (only goes for sure thing but like Gilbert, completely justified and proven).

    It would be nice to see some Stefanki proteges. I don’t know if they exist. He is a coach’s coach.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    If Muguruza hired Stefanki she gets another slam then fires him.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    I am not Stefanki’s agent. My real name is Larry Stefank…yeah right! I like his work. He has a good mentality. If listen to him or Bajiin there’s a difference. One of them sees himself as a coach to elite players (that consider him a tennis hitting partner). The other one has a proven track record of players that revere him and don’t fire him by Twitter.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Stefanki got Rios from around 45 to 1. Might be the greatest coaching miracle in tennis history. Or behind Osaka/Bajin 90 something to 1.

  • Hartt · November 9, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Did you see Sinner win in SS vs de Minaur? The kid was fantastic! He has all the shots, including a lot of power, but what was most impressive was how cool he was under pressure. He was even better today than in his previous matches. He did not let de Minaur into the match.

    He said he won’t be playing Davis Cup because he has to train for next season. He is a youngster to keep an eye on.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Or Sampras with Pete Fischer. Lansdorp with anyone.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    Great from Sinner, shocked he beat De Minaur. I did notice how Sinner revved up the crowd, but it’s Milan so the stadium was on his side. De Minaur must feel bad as he was in the final last year, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The ATP website has done a nice job covering these guys. The WTA site might want to copy them!

    Still, shock win. De Minaur should be proud of such a big year. Sinner sent the message that De Minaur wanted to send. The kid still reminds me of Berdych a lot. Not a bad player to remind anyone of.

  • Hartt · November 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    A few people on Reddit also said Sinner reminded them of Berdych. But I think the youngster is better in one area at least. He seems to have ice in his veins, he plays the big points so well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 9, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    Sinner has more live arm, more whippy, Berdych is mechanical like a robot, totally different players. Sinner has better agility and tennis athleticism than Berdych, doesn’t mean he will be a better player but he could be.

  • Doogie · November 9, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Noone here talking about this Las Vegas incident???

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZHM51UemXM

    Scoop u should make a story about it!!

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    It’s ATP finals time. No time for low level matches Vegas challenger matches between Sebov and Parks, in which Sebov gets Parks back for Parks win earlier on.

  • Andrew Miller · November 9, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    We forget Berdych and how good he was!

    One thing about tennis…the memory of how good these guys were. New players come along and we forget Berdych was a lot better than Alex Zverev.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 1:13 am

    I’m intruding Fed Cup here because the previous thread has died out and it’s worth noting Kiki bt Barty in 3 sets – took t/b in 3rd 7/1 – leaving the doubles to play for – Kiki no doubt exhausted and Caro probably demoralised. Kiki’s done well since Bajin took a hike. The ITF should keep their sticky fingers off the Fed Cup – these home/away ties are what keeps it alive.

    Andrew – how can the WTA site copy the ATP covering Nextgen ? Women don’t have one. ~WTA covered Shenzhen ok – it was the tournament which was ****.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 10, 2019 at 1:42 am

    I saw this Doogie. Sebov roared an intense COME ON after match point to rub it in, it must have been a hotly contested battle. I saw Parks beat her in straight sets recently, so there may be some history. Then Parks snapped at the handshake, ridiculously claiming it was too firm. Then Parks father came stumbling on to the court begging for the umpire to forfeit Sebov for doing a too firm handshake. What an embarrassment. Then Parks went over and confronted Sebov at her chair and Sebov pushed her away, very smart defensive move by Sebov to retaliate to Parks aggression. Sebov handled it well. For Parks to be upset for the handshake being too firm is absolutely absurd. Parks looked like a thug idiot and Sebov handled it smartly.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

    France win Fed Cup 3-2, Kiki and Caro win the doubles SS v Barty and Stosur. Great victory, great tie. Vive la France. Aust still looking.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 5:16 am

    Domi must be proud – Kiki won it for France – and Sascha must be wondering: ‘did I make a big mistake ?’

    Even Cahill was overwhelmed. And all in sweltering heat and v an Aust home crowd.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 6:30 am

    Apparently David Heggarty was booed by French fans in Perth. What can this mean ?

  • Hartt · November 10, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Good for the French fans! The dumb ITF is destroying both Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

    I’d predicted that France would win, based on the Garcia/Mladenovic doubles team. But my heart was with the Aussies, it has been so long since they won the title and they wanted it so badly, especially playing at home.

  • Andrew Miller · November 10, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Fantastic from Mladenovic. Bravo! The kind of performance that sends a message. I love it when players do this. Lile Ljubicic against the U.S. team. I didn’t love that Ljubicic did it, but he stepped up and did so. Now Mladenovic. Courage! Bravo. And like Catherine said vive la France.

    Mladenovic. Wow. And as to Bajin, who’s looking like they knew what they were talking about now? Even if Mladenovic needs Fed Cup atmosphere to do it, this is a huge moment. Shows heart. Tons of it

  • Hartt · November 10, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Yes, good for Kiki! I hope this gives her confidence going into the next season.

    Berrettini said that Ajla will arrive in London on Tuesday, so I wonder if Kiki will go as well, to support Dominic.

  • Andrew Miller · November 10, 2019 at 8:47 am

    As to Vegas stupidity…maybe lukewarm handshakes should be norm for WTA and WTA challenger and futures events. The men clearly have no problem with handshakes but for women something else seems to bubble up that’s unnecessary. Maybe the bubbles around women and girls players is too airtight that it doesn’t allow things such as reality to burst it.

    Seriously. Just a tennis match yet somehow it was a brawl. Penalize the player and fine them to know that’s not ok. Didn’t like they beat you this time? Compete better next time.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Andrew – yes, I think the ‘bubble’ does affect women and girls more – in fact I’d go so far as to say boys aren’t in the same kind of bubble at any stage. Cultural/social reasons. Vulnerability etc. Reality should break through at some point.

    Reminds me of ballet dancers – they’re in a bubble from 4/5 years old and can come to grief if they are not very good and basically looked after in a company – and even then – problem with female performers, including tennis players, they don’t grow up normally and lose immature girlish habits. Pettiness, jealousy etc. The bubble ‘protects’ them but also can hold them back.

    (I’ll get into trouble for saying that but experience tells me it’s true.)

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I’m furious about the change in format. The Fed Cup was a unique competition. So the suits had to ruin it. This was tried a couple of times years ago and it didn’t work. No reason it should work now. Budapest ? How many Hungarians are going to be interested in Italy playing GB eg ?
    There aren’t that many women players who are drawcards on their own.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Of course they will destroy Fed Cup. And I wonder how long Davis Cup will survive. They are admitting that ticket sales have been disappointing so far.

  • catherine · November 10, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Hartt – yes, and the atmosphere in Perth was terrific – you just don’t get that in neutral venues. Can’t buy it.

  • Hartt · November 10, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Catherine, exactly!
    I was lucky enough to go to a DC tie here in Toronto a little over a year ago. I go to the Rogers Cup each year and have seen Federer, Milos, FAA, Bianca, etc. and there was lots of excitement for those matches, but nothing like the atmosphere for DC.

  • Andrew Miller · November 10, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Don’t like the new Davis Cup format a smidge. Changes I like in the game are the fifth set tiebreaks at slams. Thank you John Isner!!!

  • Andrew Miller · November 10, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Yeah problem with the bubble. Somehow some kids and they are kids believe the match is the only thing that matters and the opponent is enemy. Opponent isn’t an enemy just an opponent. Once the battle on court is over it’s over. Shake hands or do the fake congrats and go home or go get a soda or something.

    Maybe Instagram is good for this new generation of players. They at least have a distraction. Some players find whole new careers in it I guess even though it’s one big advertisement for me me me me.

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