These days, when I see Jack Sock walking from one side of the court to the other, with his baseball hat high on his head and a wry smile on his face, the words “ambling into history” come to my mind. That’s the title of a biography of George W. Bush by Frank Bruni, but the phrase fits Sock’s style these days. His gait may be ambling, but more and more it looks like he’s going to use it to walk straight into U.S. tennis history.
Friday at Indian Wells was a day of firsts, in a year of firsts, for Sock. The 24-year-old recorded his first win over a Top 5 player, Kei Nishikori, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2—he was 0-7 against the cream of the tour coming in. That victory sent Sock to his first Masters 1000 semifinal, at the BNP Paribas Open. In 2017, Sock has already won two tournaments, cracked the Top 20 for the first time and cemented his new position as the No. 1 American on the men’s side. Since Andy Roddick retired in 2012, we’ve been searching for the future of U.S. men’s tennis. It’s looking more and more like Sock, a year after making a fake run for president, is going to throw his hat in the ring for that imaginary position as well.
“There’s a nice confidence boost from that,” Sock said this week about becoming the No. 1 American. “But also on the flip side of that, for American tennis in general, hopefully it’s not at 18 [his current ranking], where I am now. Hopefully it’s kind of like it was back in the day, Top 10, Top 5.”