I expect we’ll be seeing Jack Sock on the cover of Tennis magazine sometime soon. Just this week, Sock jumped two places to become the No.1 American male player for the first time in his career. Turning 24 years old a month ago, Sock is currently ranked number 23 in the world. Sock has had a strong 2016 season, having reached two ATP Finals (Auckland and Houston) and also reaching the Fourth Round at the US Open. Last week, at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, Sock reached the Quarterfinals in Singles, where he came oh-so-close to achieving his first ATP Masters 1000 Semifinal (the match went to France’s Gilles Simon in a third set tiebreak). Oh—and he and doubles partner John Isner won the Doubles Title there. In the previous week, Sock and partner Bernard Tomic took the Doubles Title in Beijing.
And then, there was Rio. Forget Tennis magazine—eventually, you’ll probably see this guy on a Wheaties box. Not only did Sock recently place a pair of Olympic medals (gold and bronze, in doubles) into his trophy case when he returned to Kansas, but he showed millions the sort of highly-skilled, true-sportsmanlike quality that inspires all as they fuel up for the day ahead.
Standing on the medal platform had to be a dream come true, but for Sock, the real reward these days seems to be enjoying of the challenge that comes from playing the top players more and more frequently. Booking himself spots further and further into a tournament’s draw on a regular basis gives Sock the workout that his competitive soul craves. He revels in the opportunity to show that besides slaying his opponents with his famous forehand, he is also able to win important points with his consistent touch and control. In the first round of the Stockholm Open, Sock defeated Malek Jaziri (TUN) 3-6 6-3 7-6(5). In round two, he beat Germany’s Dustin Brown 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4. In both matches Sock was forced to overcome moments of discomfort and nimbly step up the level of his deft strokes. And he did. Brilliantly. Now, it’s time for the Quarterfinals and Sock is the last American around (in singles or doubles). Fellow countrymen John Isner, Steve Johnson, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison have all exited the indoor blue hard courts of the Kungliga Tennis Hallen (Royal Tennis Club) in Stockholm. What they left behind was a tennis-savvy (if a bit noisy) crowd that loves a tight match, and they are getting their share of them this week. Sock instinctively knows how to win a crowd over (or even win a crowd back, if necessary). His physical and mental game seem only to be topped by his charisma with an audience lately.
Forget Wheaties—maybe there’s a political career ahead someday. Naw… politics doesn’t deserve such talent.
Sock will play Gastao Elias of Portugal in the Quarterfinal on Friday (6:30pm Stockholm time/12;30pm ET/11:30am CT/9:30am PT).