Jack Sock, the former top-10 player whose struggles over the last year have been monumental on the singles court, has a comeback plan in place.
And from the look of it, he’s tucked away his passport.
Because Sock is scheduled to come back in a few weeks – and every tournament he has entered through the summer is at home in the U.S.
The 26-year-old has played only one singles match this year. He lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Aussie Alex Bolt and in the third round of the doubles with his good friend Jackson Withrow. And he’s been gone since then.
Sock reportedly suffered a ligament damage to his right index finger, under circumstances that were the subject of much speculation back in February.
The Tennis Channel reported it could be a snowboarding incident. And then brother Eric Sock denied that on Twitter, saying it occurred during a workout in Melbourne. Eric Sock subsequently deleted the Tweet.
The fact that Sock needed surgery seems not to have been in dispute, as was the fact that he would be out at least two months.
It’s been three months since the surgery. But the plan is in place.
Starting back at the Challenger level
Sock remains at No. 2 in the doubles rankings. His titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the ATP Tour finals with Mike Bryan remain on the computer.
But his singles ranking stands at No. 155. That isn’t going to get him into too many top-level tournaments. He has already taken a pass on the spring clay-court season leading up to the French Open.
Even though he’s won Wimbledon doubles twice – in 2014 with Canadian Vasek Pospisil, and last year with Bryan – it’s too early to tell whether that will warrant him a wild card from the All-England Club.
And so in the end, the American may just be taking a pass on the dirt and the grass altogether.
Sock hasn’t played the qualifying at a major in six years.
He hasn’t played a Challenger tournament since he lost to his pal Nick Kyrgios in the final of the Savannah Challenger five years ago.
But that’s where he’ll start his comeback.
Little Rock, Columbus, Winnetka …
Sock has already submitted his planned schedule through the US Open, which Tennis.Life has obtained. And he’ll start with two Challenger events.
The first is a new tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas the week of June 3. The week after that, the comeback tour continues on to Columbus, Ohio the week of June 10.
He has entered those events in lieu of any of the grass-court tuneups for Wimbledon.
Sock hasn’t yet entered Wimbledon qualifying, although the deadline isn’t until June 3. As a two-time doubles champion (although he has gone past the second round only once in singles), would the AELTC consider him for a wild card?
But there is room in his schedule.
After that, Sock plans to play every week during the U.S. summer hard-court season, health permitting.
He has entered the Winnetka Challenger the second week of Wimbledon. And then Atlanta and then the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
After that, he also has entered the qualifying in both Montreal and Cincinnati (with his ranking, he would need a wild card for both). He also has signed on for Winston-Salem the week of the US Open qualifying – and the US Open qualifying itself.
Basically, he has all his bases covered. But you would have to think that the American events (Atlanta, D.C., Cincinnati and the US Open) will grant him wild cards.
No protected ranking
Had Sock waited until, say, the Atlanta tournament, he could have taken a protected ranking with his absence stretching to six months.
But it probably wasn’t worth the wait, since he won’t drop that much until November, when half his current 365 ranking points will drop off with a quarterfinal result at the Paris Indoors coming up.
All in all, it’s a very smart move given his ranking. He’ll have all the opportunities he needs to get back on track through the summer.
The best revenge is living well
While he’s been out, Sock has taken advantage of the unexpected free time during the season.
He went on a bucket-list trip to the Masters with his brother and father. He’s been hitting the race-car circuit. He went to Universal Studios and Seattle. And – notably – it looks like he’s madly in love. And it looks to be both recent, and mutual. His Insta looks like a whole lot of fun.
The lucky lady is Laura Little, a 22-year-old college student and cheerleader for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets – the Honeybees – and, as of last week, Miss North Carolina 2019. Little and lookalike sister Courtney also are former Miss Teen North Carolinas.
Cheslie Kryst, a 28-year-old attorney who held the Miss North Carolina title, was crowned Miss USA May 2. And so Little, first runner-up at the state pageant (and the winner of the interview segment!), inherits the title as Kryst will have other duties to perform this year
(This is information you need, we know! It’s all about you, dear reader).
So, to sum up. Love life is going gangbusters. Return to the courts is in sight.
All Sock needs is to find the mojo he had at the end of 2017, when he won the Paris Indoors to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals, made the semifinals there and jumped into the top 10.
Sock also will have to find a new doubles partner – if he wants one. Bob Bryan has returned to action after his hip surgery. And the brothers have the band back together.