Atlanta SF preview and pick: Isner vs. Sock

Fellow Americans and familiar foes John Isner and Jack Sock will be facing each other again on Saturday in Atlanta. The winner will advanced to the title match against either Dudi Sela or Benjamin Becker.

It will be an all-American affair when John Isner and Jack Sock renew a bit of a rivalry in the semifinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Saturday afternoon.

They have already faced each other twice since the spring, with Isner prevailing 6-4, 6-3 on the clay courts of Nice before Sock scored some 6-4, 7-6(4) revenge earlier this month on the grass of Newport. Overall, Isner leads the head-to-head series 3-1. Their first meeting–and only previous encounter on a hard court–came at this same Atlanta event in 2012, when Isner won a quarterfinal clash 7-6(7), 6-4. Their second showdown came last season on the clay courts of Houston, where in typical Isner fashion the current world No. 12 survived in a third-set tiebreaker.

“I play him a lot,” Isner noted. “It’s weird. This will be our fifth time playing and he hasn’t been on the tour that long. A lot of guys I’ve never played before. I haven’t played Sam Querrey in four years and we’ve played all the same tournaments. I beat [Sock] in Europe earlier this year and he beat me a couple of weeks ago, so it will be a little bit of a rubber match.”

And it cannot come in a better setting for Isner. This week’s No. 1 seed is 14-3 lifetime in Atlanta, with a title (2013), two runner-up finishes, and now two semifinal performances. He saved two match points to outlast Robby Ginepri 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 on Thursday before getting past Marinko Matosevic 7-6(7), 6-4 in the second round. Isner is a decent 25-12 for the season with what is by far his favorite two months of action still ahead of him.
Isner 1
Sock does not need the summer hard-court swing to pick up momentum; he already has plenty of that. The 21-year-old American reached the third round of the French Open then made an improbable run to the Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil. He promptly followed up that career highlight with a semifinal in Newport and so far in Atlanta he has made relatively routine work of Alejandro Gonzalez, Michael Venus, and Lukas Lacko.
Sock 2
“Newport was pretty ugly for both of us,” Sock reflected. “We both played some shocking tennis at times. We practice together almost every day now at Saddlebrook in Tampa, so I’m going to have to go out and use what I know from practicing with him. These courts suit him pretty well. It’s a pretty high-bouncing court and obviously when a seven-foot guy is serving down on you it’s not going to be easy.”

It’s also going to be a major step up in competition following what had to be considered a dream draw for Sock up to this point. He has coasted, whereas Isner is battle-tested this week–but not to the extent that he has used a ton of energy. Although a slight edge in current form may go to Sock, this is Isner’s favorite time of year and he has to be feeling right at home at this particular event.

Pick: Isner in 3

2 Comments on Atlanta SF preview and pick: Isner vs. Sock

  1. I watched part of the Isner/Sock match. Sock had his chances at times. Ricky, I noticed that half the crowd had fans and were furiously fanning themselves throughout the match due to the heat. Do the press and photographers get a shaded area?

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