Sock continues season-ending run with trip to London semifinals

Jack Sock was supposed to be playing golf at Augusta National this week. He didn’t want to miss that prestigious tee time for nothing.

Making the most of his last-minute trip to London, Sock booked a place in the semis of the World Tour Finals when he beat Alexander Zverev 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in a virtual quarterfinal showdown on Thursday night. The American improved his round-robin record to 2-1 and earned the second spot out of Group B by triumphing in one hour and 53 minutes.

It was a roller-coaster contest in which Sock was hit with a ball-abuse warning early in the opening set before righting the ship. After fighting off two break points in his first service game and another at 2-3, he seized control with a break of his own for 4-3. Sock consolidated his advantage throughout the remainder of set one only to get broken early in the second and fall behind 2-0. Content to gear up for a third, the 25-year-old all but donated the rest of the middle frame to Zverev.

The momentum shifts were nowhere over. After getting broken right away in the third, Sock sent another ball into the upper deck on the O2 Arena and incurred a point penalty. It was the only point Zverev would “win” in his ensuing service game. The German wasted his automatic 15-0 lead and gave back the break four points later. At 4-2 in was Sock’s turn to give back a break, but the final turn came with Zverev toeing the line at 4-5. A double-fault by the 20-year-old at 30-30 gave Sock a match point, and it ended when Zverev missed a forehand wide.

“Yeah, I choked,” Zverev answered when asked if the pressure got to him. “It’s quite easy. (I) won the second set 6-1; I was 1-0 with a break (in the third). He got a point penalty. I was down 1-4 within 10 minutes where I didn’t put many balls in the court. When I got back at 4-5, that’s one of the worst games I think I played all year. So, yeah, I just choked.”

“It’s tough,” Sock said after being told about Zverev’s analysis. “The guy is 20 years old. He’s played some absolutely outstanding tennis in his career. (He) can’t even legally drink a beer in the U.S. and he’s (No.) 3 in the world. I don’t know. It could be nerves. It could be the expectations for him, as well.”

Sock, on the other hand, had no expectations to even be in London. And he deserves more credit than he got from Zverev, because he’s playing like it. The world No. 9 dictated play more often than not with his forehand and produced enough variation with aggressiveness and slices off the backhand side to keep Zverev out of rhythm.

“Like I said all week, I’m kind of playing with house money,” Sock explained. “I’m going out there and kind of letting loose, having fun, enjoy my time, trying to put on a show a little bit.”

The show must go on.

10 Comments on Sock continues season-ending run with trip to London semifinals

  1. Dimitrov in 2, then goes on to BEAT Fed in the final. Fed has been playing tennis like this years US Open. The first quarter of the year was amazing but now his level has been lowered and Grigor’s has been raised so he will do it

    • So, Olly, are you now going to own up to being the “only” one who was wrong about Zverev beating Fed in the group stage? How about your pick for Rafa to sweep the field to the WTF title?

      Have you ever picked Nadal to lose a match -or Federer to win one?

  2. The problem is none of them could take advantage of Fed’s ‘poor’ level and that’s the problem with the whole field now. It’s still only a Delpo who has a better chance than the others in beating Fed but he’s successful only 25% of the times.

    • Fed hasn’t been poor in this tournament, especially not against Cilic. He hasn’t been at his best, but he hasn’t been bad.

      • It’s poor by his standard. I’m surprised a fan like you think he’s playing ok! If his opponents played a bit better, Fed could be 1-2 in his group!

  3. Fed is making more errors than his usual self in this tournament than he did his year. His bh is leaking more errors. He has resorted to chip the return more than hit over it , has anyone noticed that ? Wonder why..

    But if the rest of the field just can’t capitalize and has lesser fresh legs and ends up losing 3rd sets without a fight…Fed deserves his wins . He will crush either thiem or goffin. Dimi maybe a 3 setter but this title is Fed’s and deservedly so.

    • Why deservedly so?? He hasn’t done much but outlasts his poorer form opponents. I think the way Dimi plays he more than deserves the title!

    • Fed is deliberately slicing more returns because of the court surface/speed; at least that’s what I read. He’s played three tough opponents who are all fairly big hitters on a fast court. It’s natural that he would make errors. I was concerned in the Zverev match because his serve wasn’t working, but it was much better in the Cilic match. It’s the end of the year and everyone is tired and a bit injured. I’m not worried.

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