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"I'm playing for something bigger than myself": Sock's family fuels his fight to the top
In Atlanta, the American will be competing in honor of his uncle who passed unexpectedly just a few days ago.
Published Jul 27, 2021
Sports injuries often mean starting over, and Jack Sock knows all about that daunting road to recovery. Following a breakthrough 2017, during which he won an ATP Masters 1000 in Paris and reached the semifinals of the subsequent World Tour Finals, Sock was plagued by a series of back injuries before tearing two ligaments in his thumb.
Now ranked No. 201 from a career-high of No. 8, Sock is set to square off against Ricardas Berankis in a first-round singles encounter in Atlanta, and feels his comeback has been given greater purpose in the wake of his uncle’s sudden passing.
"My dad's brother passed away out of nowhere last night in a freak accident,” Sock told Baseline. “So, I'll be playing for him and a lot more than myself this week.
"If I'm being candid, I'm just going to go out and enjoy the moment and play for my family. My family always comes to this tournament: my dad, brother, I have aunts and uncles here.”
From injuries to personal tragedy—and throw a pandemic on top of it—Sock has always embraced the tough times. It's his passion for cracking that yellow, fuzzy ball around the court that has allowed him to push through. Just a few months ago, this gritty mentality of his was on full display as he fought past five solid competitors to pick up the Challenger title in Little Rock. The victory marked his first tournament win since that Paris triumph in 2017.
"I'm at a much different place mentally in my life, my mindset is way better. I'm married now, my family, I have in-laws—I'm playing for a lot more than myself. I feel happier. When I go out there and play I feel less stress. I'm playing for something bigger than myself, it's a new feeling and I enjoy it."
Following that stellar showing in Little Rock, he maintained that momentum at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, defeating Alex Bolt before shocking No. 55 Yoshihito Nishioka in a dominant 6-2, 6-3 victory. The oddsmakers didn't see that coming but Sock did, and he knows exactly what he's capable—not only competing with but also beating the world's best.
Though he ultimately bowed out in three sets to Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals, the South African took note of Sock's performance and told press that Sock is playing much better than the number beside his name.
"I think I'm definitely playing better than 200 in the world ranking,” Sock agreed. “I'm just going to keep trying to put my best stuff out on court and keep moving my ranking up.
Officially in the hard-court swing and on the road to the US Open, Sock will have yet another opportunity this week at the Atlanta Open to continue the upward climb. Pairing up with friend Nick Kyrgios in the doubles field, Sock is already grabbing upset wins. The pair defeated No. 3 seeds Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Divij Sharan, 6-1, 6-3, to kick off their campaigns at the ATP 250 on Monday night.
With family top of mind, "passion" is the word Sock selected to best describe what fans will see from him this week in the Peach State.