By E.J. Crawford
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will be taking a look at players who could contend or surprise during this year's Series. Up now: American Jack Sock, who recently cracked the Top 40 for the first time in his career.
The Jack Sock File
Residence: Tampa, FL
Current Rank: 36
Career-High Rank: 36 (April 2015)
Best 2014 Series Finish: SF (Atlanta)
A junior standout, Sock came into his own as a pro in 2014. He played in all four Grand Slam events for the first time in his young career, advancing to the third round at the French Open, and showed versatility across surfaces by also reaching the semifinals on grass in Newport, R.I., and on hard courts at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Atlanta. He also shined in doubles, teaming with Vasek Pospisil to win championships at Wimbledon and Atlanta.
Those results propelled him into the year-end singles Top 100 for the first time, at No. 42, but his rise was short-circuited by a hip injury that resulted in pelvic surgery and kept him out of play from November 2014 until March 2015. As it turned out, the layoff didn’t cool off Sock. In his first tournament of 2015, the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells, he upset No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 33 Gilles Muller to reach the fourth round. And in Miami, also a Masters 1000, he knocked off No. 21 Fabio Fognini to advance to the third round. For good measure, Sock and Pospisil won the Indian Wells doubles title, knocking off Bob and Mike Bryan en route.
For an encore, Sock captured his first career tour singles title at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, defeating No. 15 Bautista Agut, No. 16 Kevin Anderson, No. 32 Santiago Giraldo and No. 42 Sam Querrey along the way.
Sock’s game is reminiscent of fellow Nebraska native Andy Roddick, keyed by a big serve-big forehand combination, but his ascent has come as he’s bolstered his backhand and improved his movement to compete with the world’s best. And like Roddick, Sock relishes the big stage. He won the US Open boys’ singles title in 2010 and the US Open mixed doubles crown in 2011 (with Melanie Oudin). In singles, in 2011 he became the first USTA Boys’ 18s champion to win a singles match at the US Open in 15 years, and he followed that up by advancing to the third round in Flushing in 2012 and 2013.
Currently ranked a career-best No. 36 in the world, Sock has a chance to earn seeds during this yer's Series, perhaps paving the way to some easier draws and a permanent spot on the 2015 Series leaderboard.