Roger Federer and Jack Sock will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they clash in the opening singles match of the World Tour Finals on Sunday afternoon.
Federer has won all three of their previous meetings and has never surrendered a single set to Sock. The Swiss prevailed twice in 2015 (6-3, 6-2 in Indian Wells and 6-3, 6-4 in Basel) before getting the job done 6-1, 7-6(4) in the Indian Wells semifinals earlier this season.
Sock figured he would be on vacation right now instead of getting another shot at the 19-time Grand Slam champion, but what a difference one week makes. Although the 25-year-old American was not even in the realistic year-end championship picture heading into the Paris Masters, he rolled all the way to his first Masters 1000 title and stole the final qualifying spot from–among others–Pablo Carreno Busta. Sock’s trip to the trophy included victories over Kyle Edmund (from 5-1 down in the third set), Lucas Pouille, Fernando Verdasco, Julien Benneteau, and Filip Krajinovic.
To say Sock’s title came out of nowhere would be a gross understatement. The current world No. 9 was a horrendous 13-16 in his last 29 matches prior to arriving in Paris. By comparison, he was 18-3 in his first 21 matches of the season.
Federer, on the other hand, has been consistent the entire way–to the extent that he has lost only four times to go along with his 49 victories. The 36-year-old triumphed at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in addition to titles in Indian Wells, Miami, Halle, Shanghai, and Basel. As those results indicate, Federer is no longer slowed by the back issue that troubled him at the U.S. Open–where he fell to Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. The world No. 2 is 10-0 in his last 10 matches, lifting trophies in Shanghai and Basel along the way.
Federer’s illustrious year-end championship history makes this an even more daunting task for Sock, who is making his first appearance at the O2 Arena in London. The veteran is 52-12 lifetime at this tournament (25-7 in London) with six titles–the last one coming in 2011. His bid for a seventh should begin in routine fashion.
Pick: Federer in 2