WATCH—Court Report from Wednesday, Oct. 24:
A year of disappointment on the singles court could reach its lowest point in a few days for Jack Sock: The American has 1,000 ranking points at stake if he fails to defend his title at the Paris Masters.
Given his form in 2018, winning the tournament again would be a feat of near-epic proportions.
Sock, who started the year ranked No. 8 in the world, has struggled from the start. Entering the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, as the defending champion, he fell in his opening match to 65th-ranked Peter Gojowczyk. Then Yuichi Sugita sent him packing from the Australian Open as the world No. 41 knocked him out in four sets.
Over the course of his next four tournaments on hard courts, Sock posted a 3-4 record, with two of those losses coming to compatriots Ernesto Escobedo and Reilly Opelka, both ranked well outside of the Top 100 at the time.
The clay and grass courts didn’t provide an opportunity to turn things around as he went 2-8 on those surfaces, with opening-round losses at the French Open and Wimbledon. Sock snapped an eight-match skid in the first round of the US Open, only to fall to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round.
The Georgian defeated him again in Beijing, and Gojowczyk posted another win against him in Shanghai. Ernests Gulbis is the latest player to beat him twice in 2018, defeating him the past two weeks in Stockholm and Basel, Switzerland.
The doubles court has been a place of refuge for Sock as he reached his peak in the discipline this year. He’s won five tournaments with three different partners: among them the Masters event in Indian Wells with John Isner and two Grand Slam titles, Wimbledon and the US Open, with Mike Bryan.
All of the singles struggles, though, add up to the fact that Sock will be going into the last regular-season tournament of the year with a 7-20 record. Last year, he entered Paris ranked 22, seemingly out of the race for the final spot in the ATP Finals. However, as the other players began to get eliminated from contention, Sock gained an opportunity to get in by winning the title. After dropping the first set in the final against Filip Krajinovic, Sock rolled through the next two to break into the Top 10 and book his place for London. He also became the first American male to win a Masters singles event in more than six years.
Sock won’t be returning to London for singles this year, which will see him lose 400 ranking points as he advanced to the semifinals in his debut appearance. He’s been able to remain in the Top 20 throughout 2018, but the bulk of his remaining ranking points are tied up in the last two tournaments of the year.And if he drops his opening match in singles in Paris, the 1,000 points lost will land him well outside of the Top 100, putting him in a spot where he’ll be forced to qualify for the 2019 Australian Open.
From the glass-half-full perspective, Sock will be in prime position to make a climb back up the rankings as his inability to defend any 2018 points means he won’t have any to cover for 2019.
What will be key, though, is finishing this year strong. Sock is slated to wrap up 2018 on the doubles court as he and Bryan have qualified for London, a feat that makes Sock the first male this millennium to play in singles at the ATP Finals one year with a follow-up appearance in doubles the next.
It’s an opportunity to put a lackluster-at-times 2018 behind him as he charges into the next stage of his still-burgeoning career.
*This Week on Tennis Channel PLUS 10/21*
ATP Vienna & Basel (10/22 –10/28)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has every match live, First Round to the Final. Watch live coverage from 4 courts on Tennis Channel PLUS beginning Monday 10/22 at 7:00AM ET.
USTA Macon (10/23 – 10/28)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has first ball to last ball action live! Coverage begins Tuesday, October 23 at 10:00AM ET