Nov/19

8

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

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Scoop, I watched the Fed vs Novak match carefully, and Novak did not play badly. Maybe he seemed demoralized at the end, but that was because by then he knew he had no chance. Roger was simply brilliant in that match, and vintage Federer was going to beat anyone, including Djokovic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Hartt, how was Djokovic’s intensity and emotion? Did he smash a racquet? Or was he in that mood of just going through the motions? From the small part I saw it looked like Federer wanted it more, needed the win more (had not beat Djokovic in four years). Yes no. 1 was on the line for Djokovic but that didn’t seem to give him any extra spark.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Jon, IMG Bollettieri tried to manufacture a new style net attacker a few years ago in Ingrid Neel but she is undersized and it did not work out, she is ranked around 600 WTA and is about 22 year old now. How is Gabby Price coming along?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Andrew, Yes JG lives nearby the Citi Open and he goes every year to the main draw and qualies. He lives in Bethesda which is close by.

  • jg · November 15, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Andrew if you want tickets for next year just let me know closer to the tournament

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Scoop, I did not think Novak looked especially flat emotionally. A couple times he raised his arms after a good shot, asking for more crowd support, and got it. Of course the crowd was wildly pro Fed, and that may have bothered him. Someone said they applauded his DFs, which of course is unacceptable.

    Novak wasn’t at his best, but a lot of that was because of Fed’s brilliance.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 9:18 am

    JG thanks! That is incredibly generous. I haven’t made it the last few years and Rock Creek Park is a special place for tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Hartt, Djokovic recently said he has a mental edge on Rafa and Federer, this cocky talk may have given Roger an extra incentive to beat Djokovic. Much like Andreescu telling all the WTA players she has forgotten how to lose. Maybe that cocky quote by Djokovic was why he lost yesterday.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Wow Jon King, you really must not like what you are seeing on the WTA at the high levels. To me it’s a little much, that the WTA and its sponsors including China have emphasized glamor (pink and purple courts! Yes they’ve had them before and once Madrid even had blue clay thanks to Ion Tiriac, I think Miami had a purplish court once?). The glamour over substance for a game that’s a fight to the finish reminds me a little of hunger games the movie, where warriors have their final made for tv interview as if everything is normal before they enter a contest where their lives are literally on the line.

    To my eye the WTA isn’t professional when it can’t bother to maintain its own website, with substandard information on the top 100 players and sporting glam shots that don’t look like the players. That extends to tournaments where tv rights fetch more than ticket sales so the tournaments have few fans on hand (maybe they get fifteen percent of a stadium filled for many events for most rounds with exception of semis, finals?).

    I dunno. Just looks bad. The Moscow tournament seemed more professional, even the Japan tournament, just the China ones didn’t look right on either tournament.

    If Nike is emphasizing the grit of its players and quality of their play and their effort, and China is selling lipstick, I think there’s a huge problem.

    I’m glad players are rolling in the dough and some players have earned enough to give up tennis and can now live for the lifestyle rather than the tennis experience. There’s a good chance many can retire without having to give a lesson for the rest of their lives.

    I don’t like that at a time the players themselves are asking for equal pay and equal treatment etc that the tournaments themselves are so retrograde in emphasizing everything else about the players beyond the phenomenon of their abilities. Big can of worms in this paragraph but there I said it. This is a time warp.

  • catherine · November 15, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Scoop – Talking of Gabby Price I just came across a Youtube video made when she was 9 yrs old – comments were critical of her father, justified I don’t know. The video was categorised as ‘prodigies’.

    She’s ranked 1017 and seems to lose a lot of matches in SS, falling away in the 2nd set.

    She’d be 16 now ?

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Players have long memories! Djokovic sometimes needs to put a sock in it and stop giving everyone so much more motivation to beat him. I’m sure he’ll be back stronger than ever but the shoulder injuries etc of past month hasn’t been good.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Medvedev forgot to lose. Whoops. You can almost count it as a player will lose soon everytime they say they forgot how to lose. Speaking of Medvedev: poor showing for his first ATP finals. He has more work to do than anyone imagined to push through the field.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Commend Federer for his competitiveness and killer instinct and burning desire. I wonder whether Sampras, Lendl, etc – they had this desire and fire, but didn’t have the benefit of seeing other pro athletes continue to perform at the highest level at older ages for their sport. Agassi’s back game out at age 36. They saw Connors do it but probably thought Connors was unique and weren’t interested in one magical run plus many lesser runs or getting hit off the court by the likes of Cristiano Caratti.

  • catherine · November 15, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Andrew – I don’t mind your last paragraph – in fact it’s pretty much what I was implying in the comment JG replied to. I’m for equal prize money overall and I was certainly behind the women players in early days because they were on the whole shabbily treated.

    But the whole trainload has slipped off the rails now. Some events are well run, have decent draws and good attendances (Moscow, Japan ok) but the the Chinese are particularly poor and Shenzhen was a disaster. There is only one reason the WTA are so deep into China and that’s because the Chinese have money to throw around at present.

    The contract for Shenzhen is 10 years and I understand there is an agreement that the prizemoney for the winner is going to increase every year, so, as this year, it is the largest of any singles payout anywhere, and that includes the men. This is insane.

    It is a time warp. One reason I liked to see Muguruza climbing a mountain.

    Most of the others were probably too busy adjusting their makeup and posing on the beach. And honestly, would anyone care if players’ parties were abolished ? Men don’t have them.

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Fed did not need any extra motivation to want to beat Novak today. He had lost to him several times in a row, including that heart-breaking loss at Wimby. By beating him he kept Novak from getting closer to Fed’s record of number of weeks at No.1, plus making it impossible for Novak to get more YEC titles than Fed.

    Fed had plenty to play for, including pride.

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 10:36 am

    It is a shame that few WTA players have much variety. The top ATP players continue to add to their games. Even Rafa is using some S&V.

    It is discouraging to hear that the girls continue to do the same old, same old. I hope players like Barty and Andreescu, who are successful by incorporating variety, can have an effect on at least some of the girls.

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

    This has been an entertaining match between Rafa and Stefanos. Stef won the first set, but Rafa got better and better as the 2nd set went on and took it. It is impossible to predict who will take the decider. But it should be fun!

  • Harold · November 15, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Why does the money remain such an issue here? Who cares how much they make? Once players have 2 or 3 good years, they’re pretty much set for life. Do you think the top 3, or SW, Halep care about the prize money, or the title?

    Ticket prices will not go down, cable bills, and the scam to get you to pay more , the “ plus channels” they add to make you spend more will never cease.

    I can afford TC Plus, or ESPN plus, but screw them… Yesterday the Fed/Djoker match wasn’t on Tennis Channel, my first thought was “ Wow, they’re actually showing it on the plus channel “…was surprised, but I’ve been expecting them to do something like that to get people to pony up more cash .luckily I went on Twitter, and the first tweet was Rothenberg of the Times saying it was on ESPN..

    I’m old, I’ve watched tons of multiple sports my entire life, the money they make never bothered me. Someone’s willing to pay it, take it, you’ve worked to get to that point. Individual sports are expensive to attain that level.

    Appearance fees are a different dynamic, but as long as the player getting a huge fee, shows up, plays hard, probably helps promote the event, they are earning their fee..

    We also have to stop this treating them like snowflakes, booing serves or double faults . People boo missed Free throws in BBall, swings and misses, in baseball, missed kicks in American football. Grow a pair! As long as they don’t scream during play, like you can’t breathe while a golfer is over a putt, Cheer or boo in between..

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 11:46 am

    How come none of the men at ATP finals complain about being tired and injured like the women do? To the contrary we are seeing a 38 year old tear up the draw, with his win yesterday against the world no. 1 among the finest performances of the year.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Catherine, Price is out there but not really making waves, she was a big deal a few years ago and highly touted under Macci. She’s not tearing it up in juniors or making an impact in the pros either but she is still developing.

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Rafa just won a terrific match against Stefanos, very entertaining. So if Zverev wins today he will go to the SFs, but if Medvedev wins, it will be Rafa.

    Chris Kermode presented Rafa with the year end No. 1 trophy, and Rafa thanked him for all he had done for the sport. This must be one of Kermode’s last official duties as CEO of the ATP.

  • catherine · November 15, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Harold – I don’t bother about the money so much, nothing to do with me, I care about the fuss the WTA makes about it – as if it’s going to make up for the less than stellar performances of many players. In Shenzhen 4 out of the top 8 were out of action at some point. As Scoop says, the men don’t complain – and if it’s too much for women to compete in October (for all that money) then move the tournament or don’t bother to hold it. A meaningless trophy anyway.

    Halep may not care about the prize-money but I bet she cares about the titles. Otherwise, why would she play ?

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    WTA money is fine; I have a problem with the injuries due to overplaying, but as for equal or even paying more that’s fine. These are pro athletes and they work hard to get their ranking points. It is though a ton and some players take it easy when they hit their financial goals. Same as men’s tour.

    My issue is the marketing. The WTA tour does not emphasize that these athletes are in fact athletes. Nike has done a good job of this, emphasizing what female athletes get out of the sport. What does the WTA website emphasize today?

    – Bad writing
    – Terrible and incomplete data
    – Glamour
    – Fun
    – Anything but what just took place on the courts

    The Shenzen event to my eye was a discredit to the sport, so over the top. The screens showing players were enormous and the images on screen didn’t even resemble the players. Then the marketing emphasizes lipstick over laser-like ground strokes, intelligence, ferocity. Aka this player could be your girlfriend.

    Not: this player could serve at you and you’d black out. She rifles forehands and backhands. She shows a hint of McEnroem. She came back from a stabbing.

    Nah the best they can do is you could date this player. Not a way to market a sport of the highest paid and most aggressive female athletes in the world. Yes other athletes are aggressive too, but women’s tennis is among highest paid pro sports for women. You can’t tell from the marketing which doesn’t even go for personality. It’s just this player could be your girlfriend. She even wears lipstick.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Nadal, dream killer. Tsitsipas will nurse this wound through January. He’s now ruined Medvedev and Tsitsipas, and however close they feel to the promised land Nadal has duly informed them they aren’t even close

    Every time I believe these guys are closing in on the top cats they implode. They just aren’t courageous. Medvedev surprised Nadal at US Open but Nadal then surprises himself and everyone around him that he has levels of his psyche these guys can’t penetrate or find within themselves.

  • Hartt · November 15, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Stefanos played very well in that match, so he has nothing to be ashamed of. He does tend towards drama, however, so I hope he doesn’t make too much of this loss.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Eventually these guys will overtake the big three. Just not while the big three are healthy. That’s a bad legacy for young excellent players and a nod to their limitations. Wawrinka somehow broke through, and this shows they don’t have Wawrinka courage either. Wonderful players. Not super champs. Nice players.

    We’ll have to know that this era of super great players isn’t coming again. We’ve already seen this on the women’s tour, where Serena has been effectively “replaced” by a loose Federation of very good players. That’s what we’ll get on the ATP after the big guys polish off more big titles and break their hips long enough for the young players to want to get better our of hunger for slams.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 15, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Nadal is the greatest competitor in the history of sports. Federer is the greatest champion in the history of sports. Novak Djokovic is in position to surpass both.

  • Andrew Miller · November 15, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Agreed, this trio of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer has taken the sport of tennis to its golden age. Their might be a new golden age on the women’s tour if they become hungry for slams and glory and don’t get tired of it. These three men live for the competition – they go home etc but they eat, sleep, breathe the sport and can’t wait to get one another back or even wait years as did Federer to “exact revenge” on Djokovic.

    They don’t get tired of winning or perfecting their games. They will play until their arms and knees and hips give out.

    I’m surprised Tsitsipas etc that these guys haven’t picked up on this yet – that they aren’t willing to put everything they have on the court and then fifteen percent more than that. I think Raonic got the message but his body gave out – he understood he had to become the hunter rather than the hunted.

    Murray got the message. Wawrinka got the message.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 16, 2019 at 2:05 am

    There is no way you can tell me Federers top priority in life is not his career and winning more. He can say family wife and kids come first for image but it’s bs. These guys are severe winning addicts. Rafa delayed marriage as long as he could. These guys lives revolve around their tennis careers not their families it seems.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 16, 2019 at 6:58 am

    The Koz got killed by JJ Wolf 2 and 2. Wolf is an interesting prospect. As Jon says, has tree-trunk legs and hits big. Not a very big kid though. I’d say he’s like 6-feet tall. Never won an NCAA title so I don’t think you can compare him to Johnson, but he seems to be the only American college player with possibly Chris Eubanks, to be able to make it into the top 100.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Wolf: that guy’s good! Goes for his shots. Seems to have patterned part of game on Djokovic. Plays good aggressive tennis. Takes game to opponent. Closes well, looks for short ball. Doesn’t play like a robot. Good stuff. Saw some highlights just now of him in Charlottesville, as pasting a confidant Kozlov is a good result.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Bryan Brothers will retire in 2020. They changed the sport for the better. Clear impact on doubles.

  • catherine · November 16, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Coco V on her way back in Houston – in sfs. So many Cocos.

    Bouchard retires injured. Another setback.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Too many WTA injuries. The tour should take some of that marketing spend and put it to keeping players healthy. I’d rather see Andreescu etc finish a string of tournaments without breaking apart.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Is any ATP player, maybe beyond De Minaur, interested in fighting until the bitter end of a match? That’s what the trio of ATP superplayers and Wawrinka, Murray, occasionally Del Potro, Cilic have shown in the last fifteen years on the men’s tour. Are they interested in paying attention to every tournament, every ball type, every surface, every opponent, every crowd locker room etc?

    It’s a question they have to answer. So far the answer is “No”.

    Thiem has done a good job channelling Massu. Muster had this ethos on clay. Maybe Thiem given his determination. Medvedev if he gets back on the horse after a string of tournaments where he fell back to earth.

    Tsitsipas at least bothers to try to figure out the riddle. But he’s still scratching his head. He gets credit for trying. He will have to be savage today against Federer. His goal should be to win every point plus the final point, and play every point as if it’s late stage of a slam.

  • Hartt · November 16, 2019 at 8:49 am

    I am watching Sinner vs Hoang, a French player. They are in a Challenger in Ortisei, Italy, and there is a big crowd for a Challenger. As you can imagine, Jannik is getting a lot of crowd support. He won the first set.

  • Hartt · November 16, 2019 at 9:30 am

    One thing that impresses me about young Sinner is the way he plays the big points. He faced SPs in the 2nd set but came back to hold and take it to a TB, which he won. So the youngster will play the final.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 16, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Sinner plays the pressure points and pressure situations with the calm and poise of a random practice set point.

  • catherine · November 16, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Gossip – Zverev’s girlfriend isn’t with him in London. According to T-T she is enjoying herself in Thailand. I’m not sure why I find that worth mentioning.

    Technical – Fisette does some analytics on the WTA website – promoting SAP and although things went pear shaped I still think he was the best coach Angie had and she hasn’t been the same since. I think she finds it heard to listen. And Scheuttler may have given her nothing worth listening to.

    Andrew’s first paragraph might have some relevance here.

  • Hartt · November 16, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Scoop, that is a great line!

    There were 1.7k fans watching the match on the ATP site stream, which has such poor quality you have to want to really see the match. Along with a big crowd in the stadium, this shows that the kid is fast becoming a star.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 10:33 am

    In Italy, all Sinner sets are practice sets. Let’s not overhype the kid. Real test is Australia. He smokes a tournament there before the Aussie all bets taken, he should be on big guys radar. If he is a fish out of water, and other guys find a way to get most out of outdoor conditions, somewhat slower courts, then he’s got a lot of work to do. .

    I still see him as Berydch 1.1. Berdych was a fine player. Big guys including Zverev have a tough time. I still believe Del Potro is best super tall player we’ve seen in a long time because of his Kinstinct.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Tsitsipas 6-3 on Federer. Is this a statement match or will Federer find a way to own more of the real estate he already has in Tsitsipas’ brain? Tsitsipas better slam the door shut.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Nadal, Djokovic, Federer don’t just “play the big points well” – they seize advantages and make points big. They know how to hit shots that devastate opponents.

    These guys are tennis gods.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Catherine is turning into a gossip junkie from reading tennis tonic too much.

  • Hartt · November 16, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Andrew, Sinner is not super tall, he is 6’2″, the same height as Novak. The kid is all arms and legs, so he may appear taller than he is. He is now No.83 in the live rankings, and will be at No.78 if the wins this Challenger. For a youngster who turned 18 in August, this is amazing.

    Yes, he will have to prove himself next year, in his first season on the main Tour, but he is off to a great start.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Scoop probably knows too much on tennis lives. On Nadal and his wedding (can’t wait for Jackson to correct me) I think it’s totally true. The Nadal family is dedicated to Nadal and that extends to his wife, who waited forever and will now wait for their honeymoon etc.

    Contrast this with Medvedev: gets married, plays even better than before. Didn’t wait.

    Different people different circumstances and players make their choices, no right or wrong here. However it’s obvious that Nadal delayed his wedding to the most loyal person in his life because of “the tennis”. I can’t imagine he didn’t want to be close to done in the record books before thinking about post tennis because what is there for Nadal post tennis?

    We all know that the music stops when players retire. The hoopla is over. Maybe Nadal breaks out the racquet on seniors tour. Who knows – the competing for the “whale” tournaments will be over. It’s why Serena comes back, that thirst for what a player can’t get beyond the tour.

    Nadal will enjoy his life. But it won’t be the same for him. It can’t be as it never is. This is it, 2020, 2021, which even to Nadal, who thought he’d be done, knows he still has fire in the belly. Full confidence tank.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Dang Hartt he looks so tall! Ok then I think that’s a better height for mobility and other things. So long as his footwork is there 2020 should be interesting. I’m wrong obviously on his height being a problem. I’ll stick with he has been fortunate to be on home turf these last few months. Clearly has crowd support and Italians are more enthusiastic about him (?) and Berretini I think as young players.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Scoop, not asking you to dish, but how messed up on a scale of 1 to 10 are the stories on the tour? I have heard some things that made my hair stand straight but I try to stay away from the unverified.

    Is it really that reporters have a code and decide: yeah better not to touch that one. And they let the players come out with their memoirs instead?

    Is life on tour closer to Noah Rubin’s blog if it were ratcheted up? More like Tennis Tonic than TP?

  • catherine · November 16, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Scoop – well, since Jeff seems to have departed there’s no one to cover the gossip for us and if anyone says they never read gossip I’m afraid I won’t believe them.

    Anyway – apart from ATP Finals, nothing much happening.

  • Andrew Miller · November 16, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 on Fed. Got him. Well done by Tsitsipas. I don’t think this result changes the outlook for the 2020 slams (yet). But Tsitsipas should feel good about this. And the finals will again have zero big four winner.

    For Tsitsipas and others, also shows to some extent they’ve “graduated” from next gen to “generation now”. No dent at slams, which remain under lock and key with the big three congratulating themselves for their total dominance with a few blips such as this year (which I am sure they have already forgotten until they play these guys again).

    They are formidable. Just not champions yet, maybe not next year either.

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