Usually when a player demolishes a racquet, it’s after losing a crucial and particularly hard-fought point, or failing to break an opponent for the umpteenth time, or to express lingering resentment over a bit of poor officiating.
Jack Sock didn’t smash his racquet for any of those reasons this afternoon. He did it because his U.S. Open was about to end with a retirement in the first round, and there was nothing he could do about it. He did it because he had hung in a hopeless situation as long as could reasonably be expected and failed to find a way out. He did it because something happened during his match against Pablo Andujar that injured his right leg, and he was hindered beyond salvation.
And so, when Andujar broke him to go up 5-1 in the third set, Sock positively destroyed his racquet on the hard court of the Grandstand. Racquet-smashing isn’t something to be condoned, but can be forgiven today, the mangled frame an apt, almost artistic metaphor for the American’s plight. One game later, after Andujar held to go up two sets to one, Sock shook his head, said something to himself (I think it was “not today”), and reluctantly ceded the match to the Spaniard.