London semifinals preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Sock

It will be the last match of the season for one and the penultimate match for the other when Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock collide in the semis of the World Tour Finals on Saturday night.

To say that Jack Sock was not expected to be one of the last four players standing in 2017 would be gross understatement. As recently as two weeks ago, nobody–not even Sock, himself–thought he had any chance of making it to the year-end championship; not when the Paris Masters began, and certainly not when he trailed Kyle Edmund 5-1 in the third set of his opening match in the French capital. But the 25-year-old American pulled off a shocking comeback against Edmund, and the rest is history.

Sock snagged the final spot at this event by completing a stunning run to the Paris title, and he has done well to bounce back from an 0-1 start at the O2 Arena. The world No. 9 followed up a 6-4, 7-6(4) loss to Roger Federer by beating Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4) in his second outing. That set the stage for a virtual quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev on Thursday night, which Sock survived in roller-coaster 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 fashion.

His reward is a fifth career meeting with Dimitrov and the head-to-head series stands at 3-1 in Sock’s favor. Dimitrov won their only previous indoor encounter 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 three years ago in Stockholm, but Sock prevailed twice in 2015 (in straight sets at the French Open and 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-5 at the Montreal Masters) before most recently winning a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) thriller earlier this season at the Indian Wells Masters in which he saved four match points–including three in a row from 0-40 down at 4-5 in the third.

“I (have) played Grigor a few times,” Sock reflected. “He got me early on when we played. I’ve been able to get some wins against him. Obviously I think he’s a little bit different player since the last time I played him. I think he’s really kind of found his game–what exactly he wants to do out there. It’s showing throughout the year. He’s playing deep into tournaments almost every week, really establishing himself in the top 10. But I’m playing with a lot of confidence, as well, coming off Paris, playing here…getting into the semis.”

Dimitrov took any suspense out of his London semifinal fate much earlier in the week. The Bulgarian won his first two matches to win Group A, outlasting Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 before dominating David Goffin 6-2, 6-0. That renders his Friday night meeting with alternate Pablo Carreno Busta meaningless aside from ranking points and prize money. Like Sock, Dimitrov also captured his first career Masters 1000 title this season (Cincinnati) to highlight his 46-19 match record.

“I’ve done a lot of work on and off the court,” the world No. 6 said of his overall improvement in 2017. “I think it finally is starting to kind of come together. I think the past 10 months I’ve been playing against super elite players. I think also at some point, I was looking back to who I’ve lost my matches against and all that. It has always been quality players; like higher-ranked players. That’s a good sign.”

It’s a bad sign for Sock, who is close to Dimitrov in the rankings now but certainly wasn’t before Paris. Although Sock’s forehand will be the biggest offensive weapon on the court in this one, Dimitrov plays better defense than Zverev and he is mentally tougher than the German at the moment. Based on form, it just feels like it is Dimitrov’s time right now; and it is way past time for the beginning of Sock’s offseason vacation.

Pick: Dimitrov in 3

14 Comments on London semifinals preview and prediction: Dimitrov vs. Sock

  1. I thought that Dimitrov’s 1st place is not granted yet..

    If he loses today 0-2 against PCB and Thiem wins 2-0 against Goffin, both will be 2-1 in matches, the Bulgarian 4-3 in sets and the Austrian 5-3.

    I know it’s almost impossible.
    But am I right with this?

  2. Sock in three. I can’t pick against him when he’s on this shocking of a run and has a match against a guy who he is 3-1 against including a win this year. Dimitrov could falter as the favorite to reach his biggest final ever, and Sock could take advantage.

  3. Dimitrov in 3. I see why people think Sock might be able to win, but Dimitrov only lost two games in each of his last two matches.

  4. I like either in 3! Over please!lol

    Leaning on a bit on sock.

    Dimi looks good here as he has played very weak opposition compared to Sock! Sock already faced the ATP FINALS winner and gave him (FED) a sock shock!lol

    Sock has stronger momentum and H2H in his favor. Besides Sock’s sock is dirty no more! Haven’t sniffed Dimi’s sock yet. Will sneak to his room and find out tonight! The player with the more dirtier sock will lose! That’s is your clue to tomorrow’s winner! Find out and tell us tomorrow, who that is. This is the home work for you guys tonight!Ha,ha,ha…

  5. Dimi is just quicker, hits better and willing to come forward to attack. He’s able to handle Sock’s slices, serves well too. Dimi for the win. I hope he does to reach no. 3 in the rankings, he’s playing better than Zverev and if he reaches the final and gets to no. 3, it’s well deserved.

  6. On paper this should be Grigor, however I have a feel there will be upset by Sock. Final and opening matches with both same players.

    Sock might just turn it around and win the whole thing, this is his best time to do it.

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