10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s Preview And Prediction For The ATP Finals Nighttime Semi: Dimitrov vs. Sock

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in action against Dominic Thiem of Austria during their round robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals in London, Britain, 13 November 2017. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA



Ricky’s preview and prediction for the ATP Finals nighttime semi: Dimitrov vs. Sock


By Ricky Dimon


It will be the final match of 2017 for one man and the penultimate match of 2017 for the other when Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock clash in the semis of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday night.


To say that Jack Sock was not expected to be one of the last four players standing this year would be an exercise in the understatement. As recently as two weeks ago, nobody–not even Sock, himself–thought he had any chance of making it to London; not when the Rolex Paris Masters began, and obviously not when he trailed Kyle Edmund 5-1 in the deciding set of his first match in Paris. But the American engineered a stunning comeback against Edmund, and the rest is history.


Sock secured the final spot at the year-end championship by completing an improbable run to the Paris title, and he has done well to recover from an 0-1 start this week. The 25-year-old followed up a 6-4, 7-6(4) setback against Roger Federer by defeating Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4) in his second match. That set the stage to what basically amounted to a quarterfinal showdown against Alexander Zverev on Thursday, which Sock won 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.


The world No. 9′s reward is a fifth career encounter with Dimitrov and the head-to-head series stands at 3-1 in favor of Sock. Dimitrov took their only previous indoor meeting 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 three years ago in Stockholm, but Sock got the job done twice in 2015 (in straight sets at Roland Garros and 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-5 in Montreal) before most recently surviving 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) earlier this season in Indian Wells–where he fought off four match points–including three straight from 0-40 down at 4-5 in the final set.


“I (have) played Grigor a few times,” Sock noted. “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 semifinal fate in London much earlier in the week. The world No. 6 won his first two matches to win Group A, holding off Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 before blitzing David Goffin 6-2, 6-0. That renders his Friday night date with alternate Pablo Carreno Busta meaningless (other than prize money and ranking points). Like Sock, Dimitrov also won his first career Masters 1000 title (Cincinnati) this season to highlight his 46-19 record.


“I’ve done a lot of work on and off the court,” the Bulgarian 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 right now but certainly wasn’t before the Paris Masters. Although Sock’s forehand will be the biggest offensive weapon in this match, Dimitrov plays better defense than Zverev and he is mentally stronger right now.


Based on current form, it just feels like it is Dimitrov’s time; and it is way past time for the beginning of Sock’s vacation.


Pick: Dimitrov in 3


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *