Coming into the second-round match between Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock in Paris on Wednesday, you might have thought that the Austrian would be the hungry competitor, while the American would be the guy with one eye on the SORTIE door.
Thiem is currently seventh in the race to qualify for the eight-man field at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. He could have clinched a spot by reaching the final in Paris; even failing that, merely holding his seed and reaching the quarters would have helped his cause. Presumably, Thiem should have felt a sense of motivation after watching Marin Cilic, the player just behind him in that race, keep his hopes alive by beating Ivo Karlovic earlier in the day.
Sock, on the other hand, is currently 23rd in the chase; 15 players would have to injure themselves simultaneously for him to have a chance to play in London. Starting at the U.S. Open, he has had a good run of results—Round of 16 at Flushing Meadows, quarterfinals at the Shanghai Masters, final in Stockholm. Because of that success, though, Sock has played a lot of late-season tennis. Paris is his last event of 2016, and I’m guessing that 11 months on tour and three weeks on the European indoor circuit have been more than enough. Plus, going out to Thiem, a player he had lost to in both of their previous meetings, would hardly have been a disgrace.
Yet it was Sock who stormed out of the gate against Thiem, took him out of his game early and rolled to a 6-2, 6-4 victory in just 55 minutes. Sock hit 30 winners to Thiem’s 12, committed just 10 errors, made 80 percent of his first serves, won 91 percent of his first-serve points and was three for three on break points. It was so one-sided that when they shook hands, it looked like Sock asked Thiem if something was wrong. Thiem shook his head and smiled.