Stan Wawrinka and Jack Sock are in line for what should be a big-hitting affair in the Toronto third round on Thursday. A jam-packed schedule also includes a showdown between Bernard Tomic and Kevin Anderson.
(16) Jack Sock vs. (2) Stan Wawrinka
Surprisingly, Wawrinka and Sock will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they battle for a quarterfinal spot at the Rogers Cup on Thursday. Wawrinka has already lasted longer at this event than he did last year, when a second-round retirement against Nick Kyrgios prematurely ended a match that touched off the biggest controversy of 2015. The fifth-ranked Swiss scraped past Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(3), 7-6(8) for a much-needed victory on the heels of early losses at Queen’s Club (round one to Fernando Verdasco) and Wimbledon (round two to Juan Martin Del Potro).
A handful of Americans are doing damage this week and it is Sock leading the charge as the No. 26 player in the world (countrymen John Isner, Steve Johnson, and Sam Querrey are out). He had to beat two compatriots in order to reach the last 16 and he did so with ease, trouncing Denis Kudla and Donald Young in straight sets. Sock is a decent 22-13 for the year and coming off a quarterfinal performance in Washington, D.C., where he got served off the court by eventual runner-up Ivo Karlovic. With Wawrinka in the midst of a relative struggle, his one-handed backhand may have a tough time standing up to Sock’s heavy topspin forehand.
Pick: Sock in 3
Kevin Anderson vs. (12) Bernard Tomic
A stroke of good fortune was just what the doctor ordered for Anderson, whose 2016 campaign has been derailed by shoulder and ankle injuries. It finally came in the form of Dominic Thiem’s extreme workload, as the 22-year-old Austrian retired with an ailment of his own (hip) during second-round action on Wednesday. Anderson, who opened with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Viktor Troicki on Monday, is now 7-11 for the season and has advanced through two main-draw matches at a tournament for just the second time.
Unfortunately for the 6’8” South African, this may be where the good news ends. A fifth career meeting with Tomic awaits on Thursday and it is the 23-year-old Australian who is sweeping the head-to-head series at the ATP level 4-0. Their first encounter since 2014 came earlier this summer on the grass courts of Queen’s Club, where Tomic cruised 6-3, 6-4, and he is also a perfect 3-0 at Anderson’s expense on hard courts. The world No. 22 has been mediocre at best this year, but he has now reached at least the third round of five consecutive events. Whereas Anderson got a free pass on Wednesday, he will be in for a far more frustrating day at the office this time around under fire from Tomic’s steady diet of junk-balling.
Pick: Tomic in 2