America’s Jack Sock and Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis faced each other for the first time in their careers on the slippery, still-striped, green grass of Wimbledon on Monday. Sock, the tournament’s No. 27 seed, played with a maturity that made it clear he intends to stay awhile in the English village. He hit 26 winners to only 13 errors and defeated Gulbis 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Sock looked to be in top shape, both mentally and physically. Some credit goes to the guidance of his coach and his new physio trainer, but most of the praise goes to the player himself; Sock has clearly taken a long-term, methodical stance toward improving his already impressive game. After Sock took set one (and it was clear he was going to take set two), Ernests Gulbis let the frustration get the best of him. It’s a regular hindrance to his game. At one point, Gulbis yelled to Francesca Schiavone, who was grunting loudly across the divider of a nearby court,”Why you need to scream? It doesn’t make the ball go in!” Sock watched cooly as Gulbis’ simmer reach a near-boil. It paid off for the American.
Jack Sock will play the second round either on Wednesday or Thursday (the schedule will be announced the previous night) and Sock will play Robin Haase (of the Netherlands). Haase defeated Diego Schwartzman (of Argentina) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in round one. Haase is ranked no. 98 in the world (Sock is No. 27).
The latest with Jack Sock is that he is getting ready for Davis Cup action in July. He’s likely got plans to hit the road to Rio in August for the Olympics. On top of all this, Sock is having quite a patriotic and popular summer. His racquet sponsor, Babolat, has created an amusing (and slightly touching) spoof presidential campaign in his name…
As for Sock’s next opponent, Robin Haase, it is a difficult season, to say the least… what with the arrest of his coach, Mark de Jong, in March. De Jong was arrested at Amsterdam’s airport in connection with a police investigation of a mysterious murder in Holland. The arrest came in connection with the death of Dutch millionaire and tennis aficionado Koen Everink, who was found dead by his daughter at his home in Bilthoven, Utrecht. He had been stabbed to death.
Sock and Haase have only played each other once—last month in the first round of the French Open. It was a long (three hours and 45 minutes) match that was as notable for its surrounding drama as it was for the game on the clay courts. On day one, Sock split four sets with Haase before rain interrupted play. The match resumed the next day, and Sock won the fifth set, achieving a final score of 6-3 7-5 3-6 6-7(3) 6-2. There was plenty of enthusiastic yelling between the players, and more than usual interaction with the Paris fans. Having won the match, Sock (who was growing weary of the anti-American sentiment in the stands) raised his right index finger to his lips and gave the crowd a nice, little “Shhh” sign. It was beautiful; with total respect, he reminded them that rudeness has no place at a Grand Slam.
Well, Sock is at Wimbledon now. I’m guessing that he won’t have to shush anyone in those hallowed seats.