After literally starting over from scratch in terms of his ranking, Jack Sock has fought his way back on to the game’s big stage.

True, the No. 192 next to his name is a far cry from his one-time height of No. 8, but for his recent efforts on the ATP Challenger Tour—eight tournament appearances and one title this season—Sock will take on Citi Open headliner Rafael Nadal in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup.

Newly married to Laura Little and with a no-nonsense coach in Alex Bogomolov, the still-absurdly talented American appears to have the solid support system he was lacking during his late-2017 glory days. He is by no means “back,” but he is clearly headed in the right direction both physically and mentally. This is Sock's third ATP tournament appearance in 2021, and he's won at least one match at each stop.

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Sock will need to use the one advantage he might have over the all-time great, his hands at net.

Sock will need to use the one advantage he might have over the all-time great, his hands at net.

Sock and Nadal have faced off five times before, including a Laver Cup encounter, with the Spaniard owning a 5-0 record. As such, Nadal is obviously a massive favorite, projected to win by five total games with a -1000 moneyline.

It’s tough to defeat Nadal without a tremendous backhand, so if Sock has any chance to pull the upset, he’ll need to improve upon his 51 percent-first serve rate in his win-by-default over Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday night. That number does not get the job done against any top pro, let alone Rafa.

But Sock, with some momentum on his side, has the advantage of facing Nadal in the Spaniard’s first match back since his French Open semifinal defeat to Novak Djokovic two months ago. For Sock’s sake, hopefully Nadal’s yacht had a fully stocked bar and a few legs of Jamón ibérico, as UTR’s predictive analytics tool gives the Spaniard a 98 percent chance to win.

On the court, Sock will need to use the one advantage he might have over the all-time great, his hands at net. Nadal is an all-time great volleyer, but you’ll never see him approach the net without a clear advantage in the rally.

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If you are dead set on betting this match, think about taking the plus games, rather than the over/under total of 19.5. A 6-4, 6-3 projected scoreline—with Rafa winning, of course, would pay -150.

The Pick: Sock +5.5 games