Jack Sock Wimbledon Run Turns Back the Clock

Jack Sock Wimbledon
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Spectators at Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton last week saw a familiar but unexpected face in the men’s singles. Nestled among the usual crop of young prospects and tour-hardened veterans fighting for a lucrative Wimbledon main draw place was one Jack Sock. A former world #8 with a Masters 1000 title and an ATP Finals appearance under his belt, Sock seems an outlier here. At just 29, he certainly shouldn’t be a washed-up journeyman. So what gives?

Fast forward a week, and Jack Sock is–at the time of writing–one set away from the third round at Wimbledon. He came through qualifying without dropping a set and has continued that form in the main draw. If he overcomes fellow American Maxime Cressy Friday in their suspended match, he will match his best result here.

This is the latest adventure in Sock’s topsy-turvy tennis career. He has had giddying highs but also devastating, injury-induced lows. Unfortunately, it is the injuries that had the more profound effect. They have left the likeable American fighting tooth and nail to play in a Grand Slam where, in another life, he could be one of the favourites.

Jack Sock Reaches Peak in 2017

Let’s start with the good times. After a solid but unremarkable start to his singles career, Sock suddenly catapulted himself into the tennis world’s attention in 2017. A shock win at the Paris Masters earned him a spot in Top 10, and his qualification for that year’s ATP Finals raised his profile further. American men’s tennis had been mediocre for years. Sock seemed like the first man since Andy Roddick who could potentially challenge for a Grand Slam.

It was not only his results that provoked interest either. His unusual technique and astonishing levels of spin–his forehand at one point boasted more rotations per minute than that of Rafael Nadal–made him an unmistakable sight. His ultra-aggressive style could dominate even on slow hard surfaces. Crucially, his supreme touch at the net gave him an extra dimension that many felt was lost in today’s game.

Sock’s all-around prowess was so impressive that he could also moonlight as a doubles star. Even as his profile grew as as a singles competitor, he continued to carve out a terrific doubles career. In all, he has three men’s doubles Majors and two Olympic medals–including a Gold. While other singles players looked lost on a doubles court, Sock flourished with his skillset. He could pick and choose what to do whenever he wanted.

Not only did his game impress, but Sock has always stood out as a personality too. Jovial and good humoured but sometimes impetuous and hot-headed, it is no surprise that he and Nick Kyrgios are such good friends. His ‘glutus maximus’ moment against Roger Federer quickly went viral. His sportsmanship is always excellent, encouraging opponents to challenge incorrect line calls.

Injuries Derail Career

Sadly, while Sock’s star burned very bright, it also extinguished very quickly. Injuries have haunted him throughout his career, particularly recently. In 2019, he did not win a single Tour match, and dropped out of the ATP rankings after requiring thumb surgery. The injury was so severe, he could not brush his teeth. When he returned in 2020 he was noticeably unfit, though the flames started to flicker again as he finished the year with an official ranking, at #253. At last, he had something to build on.

Since then it has been a constant battle for Sock to re-establish himself on the singles circuit. In a sense, his career is already at a crossroads. His strength now is in doubles but clearly he wants to play–and win–at singles. It is a curious combination. On one hand, Sock is winning Masters 1000 events in doubles. Yet on the other, he is plying his singles trade primarily in Challenger events. There aren’t many players who are willing or capable of doing that.

He has worn many hats and juggled a lot of priorities. He has been a rising singles talent, a doubles superstar, an on-court joker and now a man back on the comeback trail. If he keeps it up, fans won’t be seeing him at qualifying any time soon. For Jack Sock and Wimbledon, this could be a new beginning.

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