INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The last time former top-10 player Jack Sock won three matches in a row, at any level?
That would be in Nov. 2017, when the American was playing the best tennis of his life. He won the Paris Masters, qualified for the ATP Tour Finals in London, and made the semifinals there.
Since then, his travails are well-documented. A major slump in 2018. And in 2019, torn ligaments in his thumb and surgery.
He didn’t return until the summer, and then couldn’t win a match.
But this week at the Indian Wells Challenger, in on a protected ranking, the 27-year-old is on a roll.
Sock defeated Kaichi Uchida in the first round. Then he upset the No. 1 seed, Ugo Humbert, in straight sets.
Humbert, a 21-year-old Frenchman, is ranked a career high No. 42 at the moment.
On Thursday, veteran Russian Evgeny Donskoy served for the match against him. And somehow Sock found a way to hang in there, break him (Donskoy was of serious assistance there, with a double-fault on the break point), and prevail in a third-set tiebreak.
Ranking up 200 spots already
The losing streak had Sock contemplating his future. But he took a step forward at Delray Beach two weeks ago, when he defeated the reigning champion Radu Albot in a third-set tiebreak.
He got a little help there, too; Albot, coming into the biggest week of his season, was struggling with a shoulder injury. But when all seems pretty much lost, sometimes you need a break.
That win, even though he lost to his friend Steve Johnson in the second round, at least put Sock back on the rankings list.
At No. 767, that’s … well, it’s a start.
Here’s what Sock had to say after the win over Donskoy.
His three victories this week have already raised that number some 200 spots.
If he can defeat Denis Kudla in the quarterfinals Friday, he’ll add nearly 100 more spots.
In this area of the rankings, at a high-level Challenger, every win will mean a big jump. And if Sock can take that confidence into next week’s Masters 1000 tournament, he’ll take a few more steps back to the player he used to be.
Sock 2-2 vs. Kudla
Sock is 2-2 on the ATP Tour against countryman Kudla, who is a month older than he is.
But they haven’t played since 2016. And Sock won the last two.
They go all the way back to the Futures circuit, a decade ago (Sock took two of their three meetings in Futures and Challengers).
And, a decade ago, they met in the US Open junior boys’ final.
Sock won that one 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
A lot of road for both since then.
With Jack Sock and Denis Kudla now set to meet in the quarterfinals of ATP Challenger 125 in Indian Wells Friday, #tbt to 2010 US Open, where they met in boys final, with Sock winning 36 62 62 pic.twitter.com/2gBpxQi0To
— Colette Lewis (@zootennis) March 6, 2020