Emotional Sock gets off the schneid*

Just because someone publicly tries to act like they don’t care, doesn’t mean they don’t care.

It can be a defense mechanism of sorts, especially in the face of the biggest struggle of someone’s professional life. Maybe if you try to convince yourself – and others – that it doesn’t matter that much to you, it will hurt a little less.

But if you saw Jack Sock Tuesday night, after his 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over defending champion Radu Albot, you saw something that will probably surprise his many detractors.

The 27-year-old American won his first official singles match since … November 2018 in the first round of the Delray Beach Open.

He won the tournament in 2017, one of his four career titles.

But his travails since reaching a career-high ranking of No. 8 in Nov. 2017 must make that feel like a lifetime ago. Maybe it even feels like it was someone else’s career, despite Sock’s success in doubles the following year.

Jack is back at the NY Open

Paris Master … to unranked

Sock was outside the top 20 when he made a run through the Paris Masters draw in 2017. It was a friendly draw, to be sure; the highest-ranked player he had to beat at the Masters 1000-level tournament was No. 18 Lucas Pouille.

Putting aside the win at Laver Cup last fall, Sock ended a nine-match losing streak that stretched back to Nov. 2018 on Tuesday night. (TennisTV.com)

But it got him into the ATP Tour Finals at the last minute. And there, he defeated Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev before going down to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

And then … he dropped off a cliff.

Sock went 9-21 in 2018, including 14 first-round losses. And what was No. 8 at the end of 2017 became … No. 105 as he began 2019.

After a first-round loss at the Australian Open, he tore two ligaments in his right thumb during a gym workout, had surgery, and missed half the year.

The return was no better; he lost seven first round matches, and retired in his last two because of back issues. He was taking wild card after wild card, with nothing to show for it. 

As he began 2020, he had … no ranking at all.

Sock could have begun the season using a protected ranking. The opiners were urging him to “start over” at the lower levels and work himself back up the hard way. But he waited until the ATP Tour headed back to the U.S., and took a wild card into the New York Open last week.

It might seem incongruous, but Sock is a tidy Ted – he gathered up all of his empty bottles and detritus and neatly placed them in the trash before going to do his post-match interview. (TennisTV.com)

That didn’t go so well. But on Tuesday night, armed with another wild card in Florida, Sock looked engaged. He was giving it full effort and was helped by the fact that Albot, who had his career week there a year ago in winning the title, was hampered with a shoulder issue.

And when he overcame a third-set break, and saved a match point, and finally put it away in the tiebreaker, he dropped to the court and was visibly overcome.

From a guy whose go-to expression typically ranges from smug to smirky, it was a wholly unexpected window into what’s been going on inside over the last two years.

Tough loss for Albot

A tough on for Albot, who was less than 100 percent coming in to defend his first and only ATP Tour title in Delray. (TennisTV.com)

Sock’s opponent was his polar opposite. From the small non-tennis nation of Moldova, Albot has had to scrap for everything he’s gotten.

He’s a lot smaller than Sock (generously, 5-foot-9 and 152 pounds, officially). He doesn’t have Sock’s serve or forehand.

And he most definitely never had all of the opportunities that have come the American’s way – and continue to come his way – by virtue of the country he was lucky enough to be born in.

And yet, Albot made it into the top 40 at age 29. 

But the first-round loss means that Albot’s current ranking of No. 51 will drop outside the top 65. And that makes a big difference in terms of entry into the top events on the ATP Tour.

You can feel for him – this was going to be the biggest week of his year, and he didn’t come in healthy.

Johnson next for Sock

Sock’s emotions poured out after his victory over Radu Albot Tuesday night in Delray Beach. (TennisTV.com)

Sock isn’t scheduled to play tomorrow (wouldn’t it be great if he decided to sign in for doubles at the last minute, and face the Bryan brothers Wednesday night?).

He went over two hours in the humidity Tuesday night, and came out okay. But he’s going to be feeling it. Sock does, however, look fitter than he did last year when he returned.

Sock is 4-2 during his career at the ATP level against his next opponent, countryman Steve Johnson. The two first faced each other back in 2011 at a Challenger in Virginia.

Will the emotions of the breakthrough win start Sock back on the road back to where he should be? It’s a start. But it’s a long road.

And remembering how it feels when you win is a good kickstarter.


(Screengrabs from TennisTV.com)

Jack is back at the NY Open

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.

Jack Sock finally back to business

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.

Jack Sock comeback an All-American affair

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.

Sock lost in the first round of the US Open to Pablo Cuevas last summer. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

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.

Jack Sock pops the question

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.

Jack Sock comeback an All-American affair

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.

Sock lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Aussie Alex Bolt in January. It was his only singles match so far in 2019. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

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.

Sock reached the third round in doubles at the Australian Open with Jackson Withrow, and still is ranked No. 2 four months later. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

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.

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

(Jack Sock/Instagram)

(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. 

ATP Rankings Report – Nov. 5, 2018

With Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from Paris, Novak Djokovic was assured of returning to the No. 1 ranking for the first time since Oct. 31, 2016.

With Nadal’s withdrawal from the ATP Tour Finals in London next week, Djokovic also was assured of finishing as year-end No. 1 for the first time since 2015, and the fifth time overall (2011-12, 2014-15).

Not that the 31-year-old Serb wouldn’t have done it anyway. He has been by far the best of the top players on form, and results, since Wimbledon.

Still, it’s a great piece of (gluten-free) cake to end his renaissance season.

Going into the French Open, Djokovic was ranked as low as No. 22. There, he was shocked by Marco Cecchinato of Italy. But since then, the Nole train has been roaring down the track at warp speed.


Novak Djokovic (SRB): No. 2 ————> No. 1

Kei Nishikori (JPN): No. 11 ————> No. 9 (Back in the top 10 for the first time since Aug. 2017)

Karen Khachanov (RUS): No. 18 ————> No. 11 (The Masters 1000 winner in Paris gets himself just a few hundred points out of the year-end top 10. Something to shoot for in 2019).

Milos Raonic (CAN): No. 21 ————> No. 18

Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 29 ————> No. 27

Alex de Minaur (AUS): No. 33 ————> No. 31 (ties his career high).

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER): No. 43 ————> No. 36

Marton Fucsovics (HUN): No. 42 ————> No. 38 (He bowed out before his Paris match against Fabio Fognini, but the 26-year-old reaches a career high and jumps into the top 40).

Frances Tiafoe (USA): No. 44 ————> No. 40

Malek Jaziri (TUN): No. 55 ————> No. 46 (At age 34, the happy lucky loser in Paris reaches a career high).

Taylor Fritz (USA): No. 49 ————> No. 47 (The Next-Genner also reaches a career high).

Feliciano Lopez (ESP): No. 71 ————> No. 63 (The 37-year-old did yeoman’s work against a couple of kids in Paris, and nearly went further).

Andrey Rublev (RUS): No. 76 ————> No. 68 (A back injury did in his season a little, but the Next-Genner will be back up there before you know it).

Vasek Pospisil (CAN): No. 75 ————> No. 71 (At No. 108 to start the season, and in Slam qualifying, Pospisil has come back nicely).

Jordan Thompson (AUS): No. 87 ————> No. 73 (The Canberra Challenger champion has been outside the top 100 his season. But despite having gone just 1-11 at the ATP level, he has still managed to improve his lot).

Guido Andreozzi (ARG): No. 107 ————> No. 82 (The Argentine sets himself up for a payday in Melbourne).

Peter Polansky (CAN): No. 130 ————> No. 120 (Winning the Charlottesville final over Tommy Paul would have given him five more spots towards that elusive top-100 barrier. But he has two more events to go this year).

Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB): No. 162 ————> No. 133 (The 19-year-old made another big leap to another career high by winning the Shenzhen Challenger).

Blaz Kavcic (SLO): No. 224 ————> No. 197 (Should get him into the Aus Open qualies).

Tommy Paul (USA): No. 277 ————> No. 222 (The American wins his first Challenger title in Charlottesville).

Paul wins first Challenger title


Rafael Nadal (ESP): No. 1 ————> No. 2

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): No. 10 ————> No. 19

David Goffin (BEL): No. 12 ————> No. 22

Filip Krajinovic (SRB): No. 34 ————> No. 93 (Injured a fair bit this season, the Serb was unable to defend his tremendous result in Paris last year).

Radu Albot (MDA): No. 86 ————> No. 100

Jack Sock (USA): No. 23 ————> No. 105 (Sock will have to sweat it out to see if he makes the Australian Open main draw. Even if he wanted to play a Challenger next week, he’ll almost certainly be playing doubles in London with Mike Bryan).

Jack Sock salvages season in Paris

Julien Benneteau (FRA): No. 72 ————> No. 137 (As Benneteau wraps up his career, he drops his semifinal result from last year’s Paris Masters)

Nicolas Mahut (FRA): No. 169 ————> No. 196 (Unlike his fellow 36-year-old Benneteau, Mahut (a top doubles player) has no plans to stop any time soon.

(For the complete ATP Tour rankings picture, click here).


Jack Sock salvages season in Paris

It’s the final week of the ATP Tour regular season.

So it’s the last opportunity for Jack Sock to salvage what he can from a flat-out horrible season.

And out of nowhere, the American has done just that. He’s taken advantage of some draw luck, and found some vintage form to reach the Paris Masters quarterfinals.

A year ago, Sock was the surprise champion in Paris.

And on the strength of the 1,000 points he earned for that win, he qualified for the ATP Tour Finals in London.

There, he reached the semifinals, and a career-high ranking of No. 8.

Bad start, bad season

But fast-forward 12 months, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Sock won the Paris Masters in 2017, and had a lot of ranking points to defend this year. (TennisTV)

Coming into Paris to defend his title, Sock had yet to post back-to-back match wins all season.

If something didn’t turn around – tout de suite, as the French say – he was looking at being unseeded in the Australian Open qualifying in January.

A year ago, Sock was the No. 9 player in the world in Melbourne, and the No. 8 seed.

Bt he lost in the first round, in four sets, to No. 41 Yuichi Sugita of Japan.

That kicked off a year during which the American lost his first or second match in every tournament he played. That included seven consecutive first-round losses from the French Open tuneup event in Lyon, France in May until he walked into the US Open in late August.

A day of firsts as Sock takes Paris

An encouraging finale

“Honestly, right now, any win is a big win for me confidence-wise. It was a long, tough year. I don’t have a ton of expectations coming into his week, so it might help, with all the points I’m defending,” Sock said coming into Paris.

After a first-round bye in Paris, his No. 16 seed the final legacy of that great 2017 run, Sock came up against a player against whom he was 3-0 in his career, France’s Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet had looked fresh and eager and played brilliantly in his first-round match against Canadian up-and-comer Denis Shapovalov. But Sock handled him in straight sets.

“Playing a lot of Fortnite, playing golf, anything to get my mind off of it. It’s already a tough sport, tough career, travelling all the time, being away from everyone at home. It can get lonely at times. And on top of that pretty much losing every match you play, when you know the level you can play, it’s extra demoralizing,” Sock said of his struggles, after the win over Gasquet.

“There’s a lot of things that have gone on, and I’ve finally gotten it back to where it last year, and I think that tennis showed today.”

And then, a little luck

Rafael Nadal, who hadn’t played since the US Open because of a knee injury, planned to return in Paris. But he withdrew at the last minute because of an abdominal issue. And then, lucky loser Malek Jaziri upset Fernando Verdasco as a substitute in that second-round match.

Sock had similar records against both. But Verdasco is the superior player.

And the American put up another impressive performance in dispatching Jaziri Thursday, including a 6-0 first set.

With that, he’s in the quarterfinals.

He’ll play No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria Friday.

A happy Sock takes a selfie with fans after beating Malek Jaziri Thursday in Paris (TennisTV)

Right on the main draw line

As it stands now, Sock has put himself in a position where he’ll be on the cusp of making the Australian Open main draw via direct entry – a huge upgrade over the worst-case scenario he envisioned when he arrived in Paris.

In the live ATP Tour rankings, Sock stands at No. 105 with one player who could still pass him. The top 104 players gain direct entry in Melbourne. So he’s right there.

But that doesn’t take into account any player who wants to enter with an injury-protected ranking. There could be as many as a half-dozen of those, and they would bump Sock down the list.

Close to packing it in

“I definitely had some very low mental moments. I’m honestly surprised I”m still even playing right now – this year. Thought about packing it in a few times and just regrouping. I was getting to the point where I wasn’t even happy on the court, and I wasn’t really enjoying tennis that much,” Sock said. “I was very close a few times to flying home. But coaches and people kind of said, ‘If you can catch fire one week, you’ll be happy you stayed around.’ “

Sock hadn’t caught fire when he spoke those words. But no doubt he’s happy he stayed around.

If Sock can defeat Thiem, he’ll end up around No. 70 in the world and won’t have to worry about qualifying, which he hasn’t played since he was a 20-year-old at Wimbledon in 2013.

But if he can’t, there’s still another option.

Sock will lead USTA Wild-Card Challenge

The U.S. Tennis Association is awarding the main draw wild card it trades with the Australian Open to the player who posts the best results over the next three weeks.

Unlike the women, who have to earn those ranking points in smaller ITF-level tournaments in the U.S., the men have a wider range of choices – including ATP events.

So Sock’s efforts in Paris could pay dividends.

The combination of a player’s best two results will count. And Sock has already earned 180 ranking points with his Paris quarterfinal.

The majority of the players vying for that wild card are playing the Challenger circuit in the U.S. Winning the title at the $75,000 event in Charlottesville this week, for example, is only worth 80 points.

The ATP Challenger in Houston, a tournament offering twice that much prize money, will offer 125 points to the champion.

The way it stands, one of the other American contenders would have to win Charlottesville this week or Knoxville next week – and then win the Houston Challenger to pass Sock. Making the Houston final wouldn’t be good enough.

That would take some doing.

In the worst-case scenario, Sock could ask for a wild card into one of the events, to earn some additional points to seal the deal.

Or, he could beat Thiem on Friday.

“Djokerer” will premiere Friday at Laver Cup

When the most highly anticipated moment of a three-day tennis event is two top players teaming up in doubles, you know you’re not on the ATP Tour.

And Team Europe won’t make the fans wait too long.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will team up for doubles Friday, the second match of the night session on Day 1 of the Laver Cup.

There was a similar moment a year ago, at the event’s inaugural edition in Prague. The pairing of Federer and Rafael Nadal was probably even more anticipated, as inextricably intertwined as they have been during a decade-long rivalry.

It was a little awkward, as most first-time pairings are – especially involving two players with radically different playing styles.

How will Federer and Djokovic work together – Federer playing forehand, Djokovic on the ad side? 

Doesn’t really matter. It’s the novelty of the thing.

The two have done a good job joshing and kibbitzing and pretending they’re good buddies in the leadup to the event. Although you have to ask the question: have they practiced together this week?

Three singles, then Djokerer

The opening day session Friday will be two singles matches. The first will have Team Europe’s Grigor Dimitrov go up against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe.

That will be followed by Kyle Edmund vs. Jack Sock.

The night session singles match will pit David Goffin against Diego Schwartzman.

It’s not exactly a star-studded lineup, with Dimitrov (at No. 7) the only top-10 player. But on the plus side, there will be an American in each match during the day session.

“He’s player with a lot of potential, a player who in a few years can win a Grand Slam,” Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg said of the 27-year-old Dimitrov.

When you see that night singles match, and take into consideration how much they’re charging for the tickets, they almost had no choice but to bring out the two rock stars for the doubles.

“I did have an inkling they would play – I am surprised they would play the first day,” Team World captain John McEnroe said.

Djokerer will take on Sock and Kevin Anderson.

Ahhhh, memories. Will we Djokerer re-enact this moment?

So it seems Sock, who didn’t play Davis Cup last weekend because of a hip issue, has recovered well enough to play singles during the afternoon and doubles late night.

Of course, having a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set, compared to the best-of-five format on red clay the Americans were facing last week in Croatia, makes it a lot easier.

Stakes get higher through the weekend

The way the exhibition format works is that the matches on the first day are worth one point each. On Saturday, they’re worth two points each and as they get down to serious business during the single session on Sunday, a win will be worth three points.

Team Europe is breaking out its “dream team” on Day 1 of the Laver Cup. If it goes to a sudden-death doubles set on Sunday, they could play again (Pic: Laver Cup website)

Friday night could be the only appearance by Djokerer during the weekend – unless the teams are tied 12-12 in points on Sunday. In that case, one set of doubles would be played to declare the victor, and they could jump back in.

The lineups for the two sessions Saturday will be announced an hour after play finishes on Friday.

If you’re in the Chicago area and are of a mind to catch Djokerer, there have been a few extra seats released.

As of 5:30 p.m EDT, there are seven of the “cheapest” left in the upper deck, at $132 plus all the charges. Another 203 remain in the lower bowl, at either $420+ or … $600.

(The 46 tickets remaining for the finale on Sunday range from $720 to $840, with one ducat tidily priced at  … $1,080).

Struggling in singles, Sock doubles … up

NEW YORK – Assuming he’s healthy, which it appears he is, American Jack Sock is having a crisis of confidence in singles.

He’s still in the top 20 – for now. And in fact, he’ll move up one spot to No. 17 on Monday after meekly going out in the second round of the US Open singles.

But he is salvaging his season in a major way, as the best possible substitute Mike Bryan could have asked for after his twin Bob underwent hip surgery.

Sock and Bryan are the US Open men’s doubles champions, after defeating No. 7 seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-3, 6-1 in the final Friday.

“I think this was the best match we have played together, and we picked a good time to do it. You know, Jack hit some monstrous forehands. I think our average speed on shots was 84 (mph), and I’m hitting the ball in the 60s. Who’s the guy that’s bringing that up? It’s Jack. He had one at 111,” Bryan said.

They add that trophy to the one they won just two months ago, at Wimbledon. It’s the first time in 15 years that the same pair has won both.

“I tend to smile a lot more in doubles than singles and tend to put a lot less pressure on myself, for sure. And I think, as my coach is making fun of me back here, if I could translate that maybe over to singles and maybe have somewhat of that same mentality of playing loose and just enjoying, you know, every moment of it, then hopefully I can accomplish some of these things in singles,” Sock said.

“But I know the level I can play. I showed a lot of it last year. I think it’s just going to keep taking the team effort with the guys I have around me, and they are keeping me positive, keeping me motivated; I’m doing a lot of the right things. As long as I keep doing that, as I keep saying, it’s very close. And I was happy to at least get a win here and not keep the losing streak going, so I’ll take that, as well, confidence going forward and get ready for the fall.”

Oldest ever, but forever young

At 40, Mike Bryan is the oldest man to win a Grand Slam doubles title. That’s a record he could conceivably keep breaking as he expects Bob back for 2019. He also is the oldest-ever No. 1-ranked doubles player. Ditto.

For Sock, it’s a new career high in doubles at No. 2. His previous high was No. 6, back in May 2015 when he was still playing regularly with Canadian Vasek Pospisil (the two won Wimbledon together in 2014).

He began the season at No. 39, playing doubles somewhat regularly but always having it take a back seat to his singles career.

After just five tournaments together, they will rocket to No. 4 in the team rankings and will make the year-end Tour Finals in London. They are the defacto No. 3 team, as the actual No. 3s are the Bryan twins.

It is the sixth US Open doubles title for Mike, with the first five (obviously) coming with brother Bob. And it is his 120th career title.

It also puts him at the top of the list, in terms of Grand Slam doubles titles in the open era. He began 2018 tied with his brother at 16, one behind John Newcombe. Now, he stands alone.

“I think it comes down to playing the big matches well. Jack is a big match player. He always plays his best. He’s done it through his junior career. I don’t think you have lost a Grand Slam final. So he steps up when it really matters. When we lost in Cincinnati, he was, like, ‘We’re Grand Slam players’. I’m, like, ‘All right. Let’s see what we got.’

“He showed it today. He just played amazing. You know, it wasn’t easy early. At Wimbledon we struggled, had some long matches, down match points. I was still adjusting to the deuce court and to his style of play. He plays a different brand that I have never seen on my side before. So now it feels comfortable,” he added. “It’s just a blast. I mean, from the locker room, from practices, to winning these trophies, it’s just been a great ride.”

Best in the world? Nestor thinks so

The legendary Daniel Nestor said recently that Jack Sock was the best doubles player in the world. Why, Nestor was asked? Because he can win with anyone.

Mike Bryan, of course, is not anyone. But Sock played the ad side while Mike, who almost always plays the ad side with lefty Bob playing the deuce side (except, back in the day, when they wanted to change things up during a period they had a ton of trouble beating Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic), moved over.

Sock now has 13 titles. Four came with Pospisil, two with John Isner and now two with Bryan. He also has earned trophies with Nick Kyrgios, Nicholas Monroe, James Blake, Marcel Granollers and … Jackson Withrow.

“I was talking to my team and coach, especially, and I was not planning on playing doubles at Wimbledon. But after, you know, the unfortunate injury with Bob, obviously I talked to him a little bit and I said, If there’s a chance Mike contacts me, what would you say about that? I think that’s a special circumstance and occasion,” Sock said. “My coach said, ‘He’s the one guy I’d let you play with if he calls you or texts you.’ Soon after, I got the call or the text, you know, and a very quick yes from me.”

Hip surgery for Bob Bryan ends his season

After nearly three months away with a hip injury, Bob Bryan tried to play a competitive match with the World Team Tennis Washington Kastles last week.

After two games, they substituted for him.

So it wasn’t a total shock that Bob, the lefty half of the Hall-of-Fame bound Bryan brothers, was headed for the operating table.

“He’s going to have surgery unfortunately. He’s having it this week up in New York [with a doctor] who’s one of the best in the world for the hip. It looks like it might be a six-month recovery. He’s hoping to come back a little after the Aussie Open next year,” Mike Bryan told Jane Voigt of Down the Tee. “It looks like it will get back to one-hundred percent; so that’s good news.”

A  tennis.life source said the surgery was performed Thursday morning. (Indeed, the Washington Post confirms this).


The Bryans, who are now 40, retired in that final in Madrid, because of Bob’s hip. But the effort in that Masters 1000 tournament moved them up to a tie for No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings.

After losing the No. 1 ranking in Oct. 2017 – they had a stranglehold on the top spot for more than five years – the Bryans had dropped as low as No. 15 in February.

BryanTheir last major title was the 2014 US Open, and they had reached just two Grand Slam finals over the ensuing three years. In 2017, the brothers won just two relatively minor titles: Atlanta and Eastbourne.

You know, at their age and given what they’d accomplished, that thoughts began to creep in about whether it was the beginning of the end. But they rested and retooled and already in 2018, they had won Masters 1000 titles at Miami and Monte Carlo, and reached the final at two more, Indian Wells and Madrid.

The tennis was coming together, and there were goals to shoot for.

And then, the bad news.

Mike Bryan is hip, too

Mike Bryan knows all about this. It’s buried deep in their illustrious history now, but he had his own major hip issues all the way back in 2004.

Bob Bryan is no slouch in mixed, either. He teamed up with Lindsay Davenport in Wimbledon mixed, after she returned to action following the birth of her first child. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

After the Bryans lost in the quarterfinals at the Athens Olympics, he contemplated surgery himself, and according to this Forbes piece, was diagnosed with FAI and labral tears in both hips. He never missed any time, and had cortisone shots for three years and worked with a noted New York-based physiotherapist to manage it. 

But Mike Bryan was just 26 then. Whole different ballgame.

The Bryans aren’t like the rest of the teams out there. Mike is playing with France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin this week, whose regular partner is injured. Jean-Julien Rojer, another top-10 player, is also going from week to week as his longtime partner, Horia Tecau, is also off the tour.

But the Bryans, twins, are like two halves of a whole.

So imagine the emotions when Mike, teamed up with Jack Sock, won Wimbledon this year and, at 40, returned to the No. 1 ranking.


That had been a “team” goal. And he did it without his other half.

“I would’ve loved for him to have hoisted the trophy with me. We were having a great year up to that point. I definitely thought we could’ve won a slam this year. [But], he was very supportive from home; and, I dedicated the victory to him. He was sharing in the whole process. I’m just looking forward to having him back,” Bryan told Down the Tee.

Sock time on the hard courts

Bryan played with Sam Querrey at the French Open, Jack Sock at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, Jamie Cerretani at Eastbourne, Frances Tiafoe in Atlanta and Roger-Vasselin this week in D.C.

But he’ll reunite with Sock for the rest of the hard-court season and though the fall. 


There’s a new goal: making the ATP Tour Finals in November in London.

They are already 9th in the race (eighth, technically, since Bryan and Bryan stand at No. 2) after only two tournaments together

surgeryAnd given both their rankings are in the top 20, and they have a major title, they likely would earn the eighth spot automatically even if they do little else, per the rules.

The side bonus of this partnership is that it could prove to be a boost to Sock’s confidence during a season when his singles is a major struggle.

On his way to the top in singles last year, Sock didn’t play that much doubles.

But he won Wimbledon in 2014 with Canadian Vasek Pospisil. And recently, asked who the best doubles player in the world is, no less an authority than Daniel Nestor named Sock. Why? “Because he can win with anybody,” Nestor said.

Coaching musical chairs as Schaap joins Team ‘Penko

When the tennis world descends upon Wimbledon, there are going to be several new coach-player pairings to look out for.

And on the women’s side, it’s truly a game of musical chairs.

Just weeks after Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit announced she was moving from Glenn Schaap to a three-month trial with Brit Nigel Sears, Schaap already has a new gig.

Tennis.Life has learned that the 50-year-old from the Netherlands, who also has worked with top-five players Dinara Safina, Nadia Petrova and Jelena Dokic during his career, has joined Team Jelena Ostapenko on a trial basis.

And, after Ostapenko ended things with another veteran coach, Aussie David Taylor, Taylor moved on to American Madison Keys.

There had been talk a few weeks ago that this would happen, never officially confirmed. but the Taylor-Keys pairing is reportedly already in London and practicing in preparation for Wimbledon.

After a long run with Samantha Stosur, Taylor worked with Naomi Osaka last year.

Taylor and Ostapenko seemed congenial enough a few months ago at Indian Wells, but he was gone by May. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Not a secure gig

Ostapenko won the French Open last year but was shocked in the first round this time around. She has yet to settle on a solid, permanent coaching situation in her young career even if her mother, who is a tennis coach, is always on hand.

Taylor joined Team ‘Penko in Australia. But he didn’t last four months.

A year ago, Anabel Medina Garrigues was on board as the Latvian took Paris, but she didn’t return in 2018.

Coaching carousel continues as Ostapenko, Taylor part

New coach for Sock

Sock has been scuffling mightily so far in 2018. Perhaps the addition of Knowles for Wimbledon might settle things down. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Keys and Ostapenko are not the only ones who will have a new voice in their ear at the third Grand Slam of the season.

American Jack Sock, who wrapped up 2017 in such impressive fashion but who has struggled to an incredible degree in 2018, also has a new consultant, is on board.

Mark Knowles, who joined Team Raonic last year at this time, after Raonic parted ways with Richard Krajicek, is on board.

Sock took late entry into Eastbourne this week. And with wild cards already attributed to Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, he’s the top seed in the qualifying.

Sock had long worked with Troy Hahn and, recently, with former USTA head of men’s tennis Jay Berger.

Fish in Sock’s corner in Houston

But Berger has a new gig at a club in Florida, and the 25-year-old American has been scrambling a bit on that end.

Keys had two coaches at the beginning of 2018 – and then none – as the amiable Taylor comes on board. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Surprisingly, it’s not an unusual time of the season for coaching changes to happen.

A year ago at this time, there were also a lot of new faces.

Meanwhile, Canadian Genie Bouchard, whose own coaching situation has been rather rambunctious the last few years, should have veteran sage Robert Lansdorp with her as she plays her first-ever Wimbledon qualifying next week.

Lansdorp, 80, has been with Bouchard in Europe through practice at the Mouratoglou Academy, through to her attempt to qualify at the WTA event in Birmingham last weekend.

Federer to Bay Area for charity match in March

MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer’s foray to Seattle to hang with Bill Gates last year was such a success, he’s going to do it again.

The reigning Australian Open champion will head to the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. for another “Match for Africa” exhibition fundraiser.

The match in Seattle with John Isner last April was a sellout,and raised over $2 million for Federer’s charity.

This time, Federer’s opponent will be Jack Sock.

Bill Gates will be back, too, as he and NBC’s Today Show host Savannah Guthrie will have a hit-and-giggle with the two ATP Tour stars.

“We want to go places where people really enjoy tennis, and where it might sell out. Everybody has a lot of fun,” Federer said in a telephone interview with the San Francisco Chronicle from Melbourne.

Federer has been to the area only once in his life, the Chronicle story says – a one-day visit to Google. He never played the ATP Tour event in San Jose, which moved in 2013, because of his long-term commitment to a competing event in Dubai. 

Guthrie gushes for the Fed

Guthrie is an … unabashed Federer fan. So this would be a major bucket-list item crossed off for her.

The timing works out for Federer, who would then head down the coast and out to the desert, where the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells begins a few days later.

Presale tickets go on sale Thursday, and general sales begin Friday. Range is from $30 to $500.