Jack Sock

Group Becker Wraps: Federer & Sock Advance to Semifinals

I watched just a bit of the Federer v Cilic though I happened to catch the end of the first set TB. That was just strong tennis from the big Croatian, no two ways about that. Big serve, hitting lines and finishing at the net. Set point was brilliant.

An odd set of circumstances: the only relevance of the match is in ATP points, cash, and, potentially, seeding in the Semifinal for Federer (and the players’ confidence, I suppose); really not much tournament relevance at all and here’s Federer down 0-1 probably wanting to get his legs up to prepare for some bigger matches over the weekend.

Nitto ATP Finals, Day One, The O2 Arena, London, UK - 12 Nov 2017The last two sets went by while I was working, not that I or probably anyone really thought Federer would lose; nonetheless, the second remained tight, he finally broke serve to close that at 6-4 and ran away with the third.

All-in-all, Federer has to be feeling quite good. He’s looked good when needed and he’s been tested a bit, by both Zverev and Cilic (not that today’s deficit was that worrisome given the relevance).

We’re at that point where we want to see some great tennis, but given the remaining players, most probably suspect Federer to close this out and win his seventh Tour Final.
He should, no question.

Through the years, however, you learn not to take things too much for granted. Federer is a good example here, actually. The best player in the world doesn’t always win these big matches or tournaments; this we know all too well. I recall seemingly countless French Finals back in the mid aughts where we thought Federer, the best player, might win one (that, of course, is an odd example given who he played. But Rafa hadn’t yet built his statue there).

The point is the best player in the world didn’t win. With Federer we recall, aside from the several French, 2009 Australia, or 2010 U.S. Open, among others. In Sampras’ case, we think of 1996 Wimbledon, among others. Obviously there are many many examples concerning many many overwhelming “favorites.”

I don’t really see Federer losing to a Goffin/Thiem in the SF, nor a Sock/Dimitrov in a final (although most tennis fans probably wouldn’t mind seeing Dimitrov finally fulfill his destiny — but then again, that guy’s destiny seems recycled news at this point).

All signs read Federer: on this court, this year. We’ll talk more later about the Nadal story-line here; I began our London commentary with a few words on Nadal (Nadalism), all of that jazz that turned circus music in the O2. We will have several more thoughts on that turn of events that goes back to Shanghai, to Paris-Bercy, etc.

Teaser: what in the hell was he doing in Paris?

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In the other Becker match today, the match that had massive significance, Sock prevailed. I saw this coming. By the way, I didn’t even bring-up the Sock-factor in the france_tennis_paris_masters_39034_c0-608-5633-3892_s885x516group draw. Having just won Paris, here again is a player who might be surging, peaking, as we like to say. Why not put a guy like that (or Zverev – always dangerous, or even Cilic) in the Sampras group to bolster that Dimitrov-only group.

You all know how I cherish Thiem’s tennis, and have written glowingly even about Goffin, but their current form/health, I would say, suggest this is not the Thiem/Goffin from April/May.

Now we have Zverev and Cilic going home (Cilic has a pretty poor Tour Final record going. . .for sure).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sock beats Dimitrov. Grigor’s tennis can rival some of the best in the game, but Sock has played some pretty meaningful tennis throughout his career, as well — perhaps even more so. He’s not as green as he may look.

He won Wimbledon doubles in 2014 as a 21 year-old. He’s played a bunch of Davis Cup, won gold in Rio mixed doubles. Sure his claim-to-fame has been doubles, but he’s been sliding up the singles rankings the last couple of years. And sure he won a down draw in Paris last week, but that’s still a 1000; it’s better than nothing, and yes that’s bad sarcasm.

His BH is improving by the match (like Del Potro’s BH this year. People would say, in September, Del Potro’s BH sucks. I would ask if they saw it in February. These players’ games improve, believe it or not).

I saw in person the Sock v Federer SF in Indian Wells this year (yes, Sock made that SF). Sock beat Dimitrov in 3R in Indian Wells, staving-off a few MPs from the Bulgarian. He then beat Nishikori to reach that SF where he made a little showing in the second set, playing Roger to a TB (4-7).

In other words, this is not an American getting jingoistic on a lone Yankee in London. That’s not how I roll and you know this. Sock is playing well, has been playing well. The call for him to give Zverev all kinds of trouble was not a stretch.

And what in the heck happened to Zverev’s FH and serve? He really fell apart in this tournament and I don’t think all the slice BHs coming his way was a coincidence. Everyone read that report and it still stands: a guy that tall will struggle big time on occasion, especially on a surface like London, having to go low like that and hit his robotic (but very effective) two hander.

So, Sampras wraps tomorrow. I am rooting for Goffin actually, sorta, partly because an old reader of this blog, Wilfried, countryman of David’s, seems a bit annoyed at some of my discourse (if I’m not upsetting someone, I’m not doing my job). No hard feelings, my friend.

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Despite waving my tiny Belgium national flag, I think Thiem will look to take advantage in this Western-Central European scuffle. Hopefully we, the viewers, win in this one.

Nitto ATP Finals Day 3: Federev v Zvererer and A Sock Star is Born


First set seems like less a chess match and more of a show of intimidation. I like the tennis actually, the players showing-off the breadth of their skills: aces, two wing weaponry, serve & volley, swinging volleys, trying to assert their dominance simultaneously. Watch the game at 5-5. Tense stuff, tight. Don’t just look at the tennis quality in a vacuum, people: this is Federer v Zverev, ATP Finals and we all know this is essentially the final, the sequel played in a few days.

I really need to keep this short.

I’m hearing people say the tennis was error-prone, less than magnifique, but I say it had the tension of a heavy-weight bout with some big-time tennis.

First set is, we’ll call it, pretty even; but I thought Federer looked better. Nonetheless, to the TB they go, and though Federer gets off to a miserable start, Zverev blinked (barely). Federer even saves a set point at 5-6 and triumphs at 8-6.

You should know the story, at this point. Federer breaks game one in the second set, looking to close this deal in straights. But he’s broken twice, subsequently and loses the set 5-7. He comes hard in the third at 1-1, breaks and runs-away, leaving the uber-talented German with a breakstick.

Again, one can whine all they want about the errors, etc., but this was very high-stake tennis. Federer’s box looked nauseous. The court looked tense (Federer showing all kinds of agitation, especially in that second set), warm, and thickly merchandised with class; this IS the class of the tournament unless Dimitrov or Sock want in on this.

Federer’s FS continues to be a point of discussion here. The weapon abandoned him a bit at the end of that first set, especially the TB there when they alternated some massive points, even SPs. But the slice-BH seemed to curve to the rescue for world #2.

By the way. . .That double-handed BH hasn’t just, stylistically, taken a dump on the more classic BH; it often prevents guys from developing a slice, which only means that the argument I’ve subtly championed all along (that the more classic, traditional tennis is superior) needs, of course, more time and energy from me to drive this home.

To be clear: the slice, a brilliant, often overlooked shot, brought-up today in the Fed v Sascha match, is another resounding reason to stay classy.

I only caught the end of the Sock v Cilic match. Sock is doing some things on the court right about now. Look at the scorelines from Paris-Bercy. He has several big wins of which he drops the first set and roars back in Sock fashion. This roaring style is only getting more refined.

I only saw the tail end when the match could have gone either way. Sock came up huge. The BH played an enormous part here. And some of that retrieving foot speed continues to impress all kinds of critics and players alike.

Bravo to Sock and Federer.

Zverev v Sock is going to be must see, folks.

I like Sock in this but I’m an American so don’t you dare listen to anything I have to say. . . on anything!

Ha ha.

Stay tuned!

Congrats, 2017 WTF-bound Jack Sock

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We do need to take a moment and say congrats to Sock.

He’s become a pretty familiar face on tour, under some bigger lights. He’s been there for a while in doubles, where he’s won a major, an Olympic gold medal (in mixed) among other highlights.

His singles’ play is maturing now. The write-up about his Paris-Bercy win pays a huge tribute to his change of mind in that match (which really relates to his bigger picture for sure) where he quit chirping at his box, didn’t let points or games bother him, laid-off the big emotional swing and let his game do the talking.

He’s developing that BH pass (CC and DTL), he can certainly come to net and create pressure, his serve can be big and he has a splendid variety there with the kick serve, not to mention his FH is one of the bigger weapons in the men’s game.

He won Aukland and Delray Beach earlier this year. The rest of the year involved some nice QF appearances in Miami ( v Nadal), Atlanta, Stockholm, and Basel; and SF appearances in IW (v Federer), Washington D.C., and Houston (U.S. Clay champs). He did enough just enough to hang around the top 20s, where he’s been for over two years, before making his brilliant run in Paris last week, which coincided with the tennis suicide of a handful of other players whom Sock leap-frogged to grab the final spot in London next week.

Let’s not forget his decent showing in Laver Cup action, either, where he was very solid in doubles throughout, and played Nadal in a classic, decided in the third set TB for Nadal 11-9.

What’s always held him back is the bit of one-sided tennis (weak BH) and his chirping, general immaturity. He has a big game and some genuine variety, that touch of class that could get him into deeper and deeper draws.

Even a few of his wins in Paris, vs. Edmund, for instance, where he stared death in the face, down 1-5 in the decider before coming back and winning in a TB; vs. Verdasco, down a set and winning, and in the final down a set before confidently taking care of business in a match he should win. Easier said than done. Well done, Mr. Sock. This kind of heady nerves in some adversity looks good from the American.

We’ll look at the WTF field soon, especially once the groups are announced. I suspect Nadal will make the trip now; not sure what that report was from his Dr., published as either some kind of freedom of information act move or a little PR from the man, the myth.

But, again, hats off to my fellow American who may have turned the corner here, able to put a big push at the end of the year to put himself into some pretty select company. And, as we know: you have to be in it to win it.

Miami Looking Like Indian Wells #Fedkyrinka

The boys that played well in IW are more or less still doing damage in Miami. Just at a glance you have Federer, Wawrinka, Kyrgios, and Sock looking good along with others like Zverev and Nishikori. But that top four are definitely not missing a beat.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned in my last post the legitimate hype around Frances Tiafoe. He played Federer in the 2R and did not disappoint. He is 19 years-old. Athletic and wants to win. First set was worth watching.

He’s the Americans’ most promising future talent right now (Sock is the current go-to).

I lobbed a little prediction at the end of my last post, saying Wawrinka looks to secure in Miami his 2nd Masters title, first on the hard courts. If you look at the IW final, you’ll see not a huge separation between Federer and Wawrinka. Then again, there is.

But Stan looks good, setting-up that big FH. The FH is definitely his biggest weapon right now. He’s playing solid tennis and the later he gets, the tougher he’ll be. Think of how that 1-seed must feel. Pressure for sure, but anyone with a brain wants to represent that distinction. The Murray and Djokovic-less bracket has to put a little extra step in a top 5 game.

He has Zverev next and then most likely Kyrgios in the QF to try and find Federer in the other half of the top SF. If Stan can put both of these big hitting youngsters to rest, look-out. Definitely some must see tennis for Stan coming up.

StanSmartHowever, Federer continues to routine everything on the other side of the net. Granted, the IW final was a tight match, but he never looked really vulnerable. One has to recognize that if that first set in IW goes to TB, and Stan wins a big point, boom, trouble.  However, Federer just continues to out DEFEND, hit, serve, BH, i.e., diversify everyone. He is in absolute attack mode in just about every point. This is really the same kind of offensive-minded Federer we should be used to. Remember SABR? Federer has been looking to re-establish the attacking style of tennis each year because that’s what has always characterized his tennis.

Federer is so much trouble right now for anyone he’s played. He has a tough match today vs. Agut, but the surging Federer (in 2017?) should reach the SF, the winner today getting Berdych in that QF.

And Del Potro is still a #30-something level player right now.

Here’s a quick history of the Del Potro hysteria: He played pretty well last year (2016), with a few glimmers of form, but his Olympics success and Argentina’s Davis Cup triumph were the two biggest highlights. Just having him back on tour gets everyone, even me, pretty stoked for some tennis from this gentle giant.

The Olympic win over Djokovic in early tournament action freaked people out because they saw the Argentine as becoming a monster. But Djokovic was falling. No question.

Beyond that, there was some Del Potro excitement from Acapulco and then a little over-reaction to a draw that involved him and Djokovic again in Indian Wells. People read way too much into the Djokovic matches in Mexico and California. We talked about that a lot over here. Del Potro is a limited player right now, one-handed.

I said in my last post that Roger having not much trouble is very likely the outcome. Federer routined JD. More splendid tennis from Federer, hitting the ball ALL OVER the court. He’s all-court on both sides of the net. Tracking stuff down, and hitting it between your legs. Good luck with beating that kind of fluent genius. Really a pleasure to see Federer playing this well at this point in his career. So glad I got to see him live: the 2017 Federer is what this part of the legend is called.

I like a Sock v Nadal match very much if Nadal can beat Mahut today. Nadal will have his hands full as the American continues to play well. Sock is 15-3 on the season with two titles, one of which was to Federer in IW SF where he made a respectable showing. American tennis fans should be watching this part of Jack’s year/career; he’s trying to make a move with consistent play at a 1000 level tournaments helping make the case. Sock is developing some fitness, too, so the Nadal match could be interesting.

In closing, I particularly want to see the Wawrinka v Kyrgios QF happen only because of the potential fire-works there 😉 That would be a great match-up to anticipate (build Mcshow Tennis readership).

And we would be another step closer to perhaps the Kyrgios v Federer we’ve been anticipating.

The winner comes out of that top half. No one wants anything to do with Fedkyrinka!

I’ll be getting shirts with that hashtag. Start it now all of you social media heathens:

#Fedkyrinka #McshowTennisBlog

😀

Update: Stan looked positive, taking the first set from Zverev, but then went away, 2 and 1. Zverev won his first title in St. Petersburg last summer over Wawrinka in the final. This today is a bad loss. He had a miserable draw, having to beat Zverev, Kyrgios (most likely) and then Federer just to get to the final. But he’s got the seeding and the form right now; he should have at least stayed in the third set. Enjoy the breadstick, Stan.

Federer needed two TBs to beat the ever-present RBA. The grinding Spanish tradition carries-on. Good match, Federer had to work, and the shot-making was stellar.

I have written favorable words about almost every player (even Nadal). I am quick to congratulate and quick to wax poetic about a game in high-flying form. I am quick to call-out, as well, as you know.

If you are not enjoying Federer’s run, at 35 1/2 years-old, I call you to the floor to articulate your case; you know: test your tennis IQ. He’s continuing, as I have said, to ruin tennis.

Wawrinka is testing all of our intelligence and patience. In the end, he had a nice little early hard court season. With his one Masters title coming on clay (Monte Carlo) and one of his three majors (RG), let’s see if he can earn a little interest on this decent AO/IW/MI run over the next several weeks, leading to Paris (SF/SF/R16 – two SFs losses to RF).

So, he laid an egg today in Miami, but applause for Stan the Man from Mchshow Tennis.