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Tennis News From London – Jack Sock Set To Play Roger Federer In the Nitto ATP Year End Champs • Sunday • Buy Tickets

Jack Sock of USA in action during his round of 16 match against France’s Lucas Pouille at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 02 November 2017. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

 

 

Sputtering through the second half of the season, Jack Sock views his first trip to the ATP World Tour Finals as a sneak attack.

 

Actually, it was a streak attack.

 

Sock strung together five straight wins capping an inspired run capturing his first Masters crown at the Rolex Paris Masters.

 

Stumbling through a five-match losing streak that started in Cincinnati and stretched through Shanghai, Sock entered Paris 24th in the ATP Race To London and exited as the tournament champion and final qualifer for the World Tour Finals.

 

 

The 25-year-old Sock hopes the late surge empowers him to swing through the inevitable pressure he’ll face as the first American since Mardy Fish in 2011 to book a spot in the season-ending finale.

 

“I obviously snuck into the eighth spot in London now unexpectedly so zero pressure on me to go there,” Sock said. “I’m going to swing big and play my game, like I always do, and just, honestly, enjoy the moment.”

 

Enjoying the moment requires excelling in movement.

 

Sock hits the ground running facing second-ranked Roger Federer in the Sunday’s singles opener at the O2 Arena.

 

The second-ranked Swiss has beat Sock to the ball and tormented the American’s weaker two-handed backhand wing sweeping all six sets they’ve played, including a 6-1, 7-6 (4) Indian Wells’ semifinal conquest.

 

Launching his quest for a seventh World Tour Finals title, Federer is flying high on a 10-match winning streak.

 

Will the euphoria of Paris empower Sock in London or lead to ennui trying to back up the biggest result of his career against much more accomplished competition?

 

Sock did not face a Top 15-ranked player in Paris, including his three-set comeback against 77th-ranked Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic in the final.

 

In London, Sock must navigate the Boris Becker group that includes three of the world’s top five-ranked players: Federer, third-ranked Alexander Zverev and fifth-ranked Marin Cilic.

 

Here’s why Sock can do some damage: He’s playing some of his most dynamic tennis of the season right now and is 2-0 lifetime vs. 2014 US Open champion Cilic and has split two meetings with Montreal champion Zverev. Sock, the 2014 Wimbledon doubles champion and an Olympic gold-medal champion in mixed doubles and bronze medalist in doubles, is more comfortable closing at net than Zverev or Cilic.

 

Though this is Sock’s debut at London’s O2, the fact he played Laver Cup at the O2 in Prague, including pushing world No. 1 Rafael Nadal to an 11-9-in-the-third-set loss should help prepare him for the passionate crowds and sheer size of the ATP’s most prestigious venue.

 

Sock is the first American to raise a Masters 1000 trophy since fellow Nebraska native Andy Roddick won the 2010 Miami Masters.

 

While Sock’s twisting kick serve is not as authoritative as Roddick’s rockets, he brings a weapon arguably equally important to power in today’s tennis: startling speed. Quickness off the mark empowers Sock to run around his two-handed backhand and crack his forehand with ferocity from all angles.

 

“I honestly could not believe how well he moves and how well he sprints to the ball,” Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert said after watching Sock play in person at Indian Wells in March. “I don’t know anybody that I could say is quicker that I’ve seen is quicker than him as far as his movement, and I do think he has the best weapon in that forehand. He has the best forehand in the game I feel.”

 

Sock believes a calmer competitive state of mind has kick-started his late-season surge.

 

“Tennis is a very physical sport with a mental side as big as well,” Sock told CNN this week. “I think for me it was really honing in on the mental side of it and putting a lot of time into it with people who are close around me. I’ve worked a lot on that.”

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