Jack Sock, at 27, is at a career crossroads.
But he’s a tough one to figure out.
At the moment, he has no singles ranking, although he can play with an injury protected ranking of No. 119.
His doubles ranking stands at No. 141, with the spoils of a US Open quarterfinal and a semifinal in Atlanta still on his resumé.
But he has yet to step on the court in 2020.
That’s a status that will change Monday night on Long Island, where the American will make his season debut against countryman Marcos Giron, in the first round of the New York Open.
Sock received a wild card into the event in singles and doubles (with Nick Monroe).
It will be his official first singles match since a first-round loss since he retired to Sekou Bangoura after the first set of their first-round match at a Challenger in Charlottesville last October.
(He did beat Fabio Fognini after being picked to primarily play doubles at Laver Cup in Geneva last September. It’s a victory that the ATP Tour now counts. But we don’t. Sorry about that).
After that win, he said this:
“It’s been a long road back. I’m sure everyone here is surprised I won a singles match. It’s been awhile. For some reason, Laver Cup seems to bring out the best tennis out of everyone here. I’ve played great singles before, I know it’s in me.”
But the victory didn’t set him off in a winning path.
Staying close to home
Sock was off the tour after losing to Alex Bolt in the first round of the Australian Open a year ago.
He tore two ligaments in his thumb while catching a medicine ball during a workout after the doubles in Australia, and had surgery.
It took him a long time to come back. When he did finally return, he passed on any tournaments that took place outside the U.S.,
He even skipped Wimbledon qualifying, a place where he has won the doubles on two occasions even if he’s never had a ton of success in singles.
Sock planned a heavy schedule of Challengers and Tour events during the North American summer – like, every week. He was going back to the Challenger Tour for the first time in five years.
The return to the Challengers didn’t materialize. He returned at the Atlanta ATP tournament, where he was given a wild card and lost two close tiebreaks to rising young Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic.
Sock then lost in D.C. – a straight-sets, first-round loss to Jordan Thompson that ended with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani giving him a point penalty – on match point no less – that cost him the match.
He spoke to a couple of reporters later, including Tennis.Life (not sure we ever published this at the time – so here is the grand premiere).
Winless in official singles
After that, Sock was beaten in the first round in Cincinnati qualifying, in the first round of the US Open by Pablo Cuevas and to young Brit namesake Jack (Draper) in the first round of the Fairfield Challenger in California.
He retired with an evident back issue early in the second set of his first-round match against Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis at the Vegas Challenger. Then the retirement against Bangoura to wrap up his season.
Sock was fairly evidently not in tip-top shape. But a lot of that could have been worked off if he played a lot more tennis. If you lose in the first round, that won’t happen.
The two bright lights were team events that did nothing for his ranking (although they did do something for his bottom line): Laver Cup, and the Davis Cup finals.
But the reality is that he has yet to record a win in singles since his return from injury.
Life is good during the down time
In the meantime, Sock’s personal life has never been better.
A few months ago, it also appears that he invested in a business breeding Arabian horses.
Tournaments coming up in the U.S.
Sock has entered a few more tournaments during the U.S. winter swing.
He has used his protected ranking to enter Delray Beach next week. But he’s not in the qualifying. You would expect he’d get a wild card into the main draw there.
Ditto for Indian Wells, where he hasn’t entered the main draw. Sock is in the qualifying, but not with his protected ranking. With no ranking, he has no shot at getting in on his own.
On the positive side, he did enter the Challenger played at Indian Wells the week before the main event.
As he gets back on the scene, we’ll surely learn more about how dedicated he is to getting back to the top game, and what he’s been doing towards that end.
Sock is only 27. And his top end is awfully high. He’s leaving a lot of money on the table if he doesn’t give it a full effort (caveat: he’s already earned $10.5 million on the court during his career).
But first, a match against Giron tonight.