World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Zverev vs. Sock

It might as well be a quarterfinal contest when Alexander Zverev and Jack Sock wrap up Group B round-robin action at the World Tour Finals on Thursday night. Both players are 1-1 through two matches, and whoever reaches 2-1 will finish second in the group behind Roger Federer.

This will be their third career encounter after they split a pair of showdowns in 2016. Zverev prevailed 6-4, 6-2 in Beijing before Sock earned revenge via a 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4 victory on the indoor hard courts of Stockholm a few weeks later.

Sock’s 2016 fall swing included a runner-up performance in Stockholm and quarterfinal appearances at each Masters 1000 event in Shanghai and Paris. It goes without saying that Sock loves this time of year, even though he is not playing in the friendly confines of the United States. The ninth-ranked American is debuting at the year-end championship thanks to his miracle title run at the Paris Masters two weeks ago. Prior to that tournament, Sock was not even in the realistic London discussion.

But the 25-year-old clearly is not satisfied with merely making an improbable appearance at the O2 Arena. He is making the most of it. Sock tested Federer in a 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat on Sunday before outlasting Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4) in his second round-robin contest.

Zverev has turned in similar results: a three-set win over Cilic in which he also recovered from a break down in the third, and two competitive sets against Federer (Zverev won second but the disappeared in the third en route to a 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-1 setback). The 20-year-old German is now 55-21 this season with five titles–including two of the Masters 1000 variety in Rome and Montreal.

Not too much unlike Dominic Thiem, however, Zverev appears to be wearing down at the end of a long year. He is just 9-8 in 17 matches since upsetting Federer in the Montreal final, and his third set against the Swiss on Tuesday is cause for concern. Sock, on the other hand, is riding high on the heels of his Paris triumph and the recent victory over Cilic gives him even more momentum.

If Sock seed can dictate with his forehand and come up with enough solid backhands in big situations like he did against Cilic, his impressive end to the 2017 campaign may continue.

Pick: Sock in 3

34 Comments on World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Zverev vs. Sock

    • This match is tough for me, i like both player’s but I think AZ might win, I won’t bet on it.

      Tomorrow I might be confident that AZ will win but I am not confident 2day.

  1. Won’t be easy for Zverev, as Sock has been playing good tennis and with his forehand he can expose very well Zverev’s movement which is not that great. If Sock is on, it really can go either way, but I believe Zverev will take it in a close match.

      • Well, relatively speaking, I think Gaviria is right. Zverev does move well for a guy of his height, but Sock is a a great athlete who probably moves around the court a little better than Zverev. But yes, for a guy his size Zverev does move relatively well, I believe.

        • He moves well with his height but not well enough when someone can expose him near the net.

          This match is too close to call. If I really want to bet, I will bet the “OVER”.

      • His movement is good considering his height. I’m just saying he’s a step slower than the best movers on the game.

  2. Sock took first set, Zverev just broke for 2-0 in the second. I definitely see this match going 3 sets. I’m still leaning toward Zverev here, but Sock has shown so much fight and heart lately that he could definitely get the upset! I’d be so happy for Sock if he could take full advantage of his last minute qualification and make it to the semis…

      • Classic scenario- Sock took first set, and then had a break point on Zverev’s serve in the first game of the second set to go up a set and a break, but then Zverev saved the break point and holds, immediately breaks Sock the following game, and then holds for 3-0….
        It’s amazing how much just one point can swing a match’s momentum.

  3. Aaaand Zverev just broke again for 4-0. Looks like Sock has fallen off… Let’s see if he can stop the bleeding at start of the 3rd set.

    • Break for Zverev in the first game of the 3rd set and Sock breaking back right after. This could get interesting !

  4. Zverev just played like the worst game of the match. Back on serve. If Jack holds here, I have a feeling he is getting this done. It’s gonna be key for him to focus in this game. I like Zverev but I want the American continuing his fairytale run into a winnable semifinal matchup with Dimitrov.

  5. Mean drop volley!! Sock has all the momentum now. He’s got something a lot of the Americans lack much of the time: mental strength.

  6. Zverev has fallen apart. Four double faults in two service games. 3-1 Sock. As we saw in that Paris final, once Sock gets heated up, it’s near impossible to stop him. Example: he just won two service points in about fifteen seconds. He’s gonna run away with this.

  7. I’m quite surprised with Sock’s return game tbh, he’s been able to return very well Zverev’s first serves.

  8. Sock is now feeling comfortable enough to hit drop shots from the baseline. They should just shake hands already.

    • Yeah, Zverev collapsed mentally, but credit to Sock, he’s been playing well. Right now the match is on Sock’s racket.

  9. Break point Zverev. Sock is letting him hang back well behind the baseline; he needs to hit shorter and more angles. Big serve to save one.

  10. Sock slicing is backhand way too much, not a good strategy. Now the guy which is able to handle better the pressure will come throw.

  11. So impressive!! I seriously never, ever would have picked Sock to make the semis of the WTF, even in a year when most of the top players are out. In my opinion, he is absolutely maximizing his potential right now. I did not think he had the fight and toughness in him that he had shown recently.

    At the same time, it’s quite disappointing for Zverev. Even though Sock deserves much credit, this is a tournament Zverev should absolutely be making at least the semis at. He has basically shit the bed since Montreal. Being tired is a bullshit excuse- he hasn’t gone deep in any tournament for months, and he’s so young. I actually think his age is a part of his relative inconsistency and inability thus far to do anything at the majors. I like to think that as he matures, both physically and mentally, he will figure it out and get into a winning rhythm. It may just take him a little while. He is still the youngest guy to win 2 Masters titles in a season since Novak, and even if they weren’t at their best, he did beat two different Big 4 guys in the finals. So we can’t take that away from him. There is no question, however, that next season is time for him to show something at the tournaments that are more prestigious than Masters events. Not saying he needs to win one yet, but he showed a high enough level in the first 3/4 of the season that he should be regularly making QF or better at the majors. I have no doubt he will eventually figure out how to really compete in best-of-five, it just might take longer than expected.

    Really impressed by Sock’s fight, though. I could honestly see him beating Dimitrov! I still personally favor Dimi to win and make the final, but Sock has a solid shot.

    • I did not think that Sock would do anything here. But he proved me wrong and good for him! I thought he did not deserve to be here. But he has played well and taken advantage of the opportunity.

      Zverev needs to work on fitness. He is still very young. We need to keep that in mind. He just turned 20 this year. I think he has potential and can have success if he continues to work hard. This was a disappointing run for him here. Hopefully he got some experience and will continue to improve.

    • Kevin, it’s not surprising that Sock beat Zverev. Zverev is so one dimensional compared to Sock!

      I enjoy watching this Sock because he plays with so much varieties. In the past Sock looked more of a hard hitter and big server but he now plays with so much varieties – slices, lobs, drop shots and great volleying when at the net. I like his intelligent use of his slices that gave Zverev so much trouble.

      Zverev OTOH doesn’t seem to have a slice and he couldn’t handle a slice. There’s still so much Zverev has to improve on – add in some more weapons to his game. I’m not surprised that Zverev hadn’t gone far at the slams this season because he relied too much on hard hitting plus his fitness couldn’t hold up for BO5 matches.

      Dimi vs Sock, Dimi looks the better of the two game wise. Dimi is quicker around the court, more willing to come forward to the net to attack, and unlike Zverev, Dimi can handle Sock’s slices. I think Dimi will win in three as usual; just hope they get the first SF so that they have a bit more time to rest before the final.

      Fed should have no problem vs whoever in the SF and I think he will get it done in straight sets.

  12. Gotta congratulate Sock, never thought he would go that far. The title in Paris was great for his confidence,he’s playing more freely than ever.
    I agree it’s a bit disappointing for Zverev to fall at this stage, but many opportunities will come for him because he’s young and has to improve, especially in his fitness condition.

  13. Sock has played with a bit of fire in his belly lately, which is just what he needed. In the past he’s seemed a bit nonchalant out there, especially when he hits a bad patch.

    On the tennis side of things, he’s serving really well, and his BH is much improved. It’s always going to be his weaker shot, but it’s not the liability it was. I’m picking Sock over Dimi to go to the final.

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