In round two of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Qualifier Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic edged American Jack Sock 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Despite a successful second set, and a valiant effort to reverse the momentum in the third set, Sock was not able to defeat Hernych in the brutally humid weather. It is possible that all that tennis he just played last week had some effect; Sock won the Winnetka Challenger last Saturday night and was in that tournament’s doubles final as well, and he just got into town (and onto the grass) as the tournament began here.
As expected, Sock’s serve served him well. Clearly the crowd favorite, he displayed a maturity and centeredness that gained him even more fans as he exits the tournament. (Of course, hitting serves reaching up to 132 mph didn’t hurt either.)
Sock will be leaving Newport having successfully defended the first round match he achieved last year. Speaking of last year, let’s reflect a bit on just how far Jack Sock has come since then, shall we?
In July, 2012, Sock was ranked number 245 in the world. Now he is number 84 and climbing. Not only has he climbed 161 spots in the ranking, but Sock is ranked higher than anyone his age not an Australian guy named Bernie (Tomic, that is). That’s right — Jack Sock is the number two aged twenty-and-under player in the rankings.
So where is Sock headed now? To prepare for the upcoming hard court season, of course. If you’re a tennis fan in Atlanta, Washington, DC or Cincinnati, chances are you’ll get to see Sock in the next weeks leading up to the US Open.
Grass may or may not be Sock’s favorite surface right now, but his matches here this week gave him an opportunity to learn from the pesky blades. Rather than resisting the surface, and finding pleasure in bemoaning what a challenge it is, Sock gave in to it. He was much more able to adapt his style of play here this week than he was a year ago. Sock is a keenly observant player. Even in the most challenging match, he is gathering and storing information to put to good use someday. I have no doubt that he will keep progressing on grass, even while he astounds fans with his hard and clay court expertise… if only to silence those who constantly kvetch that Americans can’t win on grass. Grass grows, and so do players like Sock. Just wait.
Or just look at John Isner. His most famous match (the Wimbledon marathon that got him into record books forever) was on the world’s most famous grass. When he first arrived in Newport, he disliked the surface. Speaking to the press after reaching the quarterfinals today, Isner said, “It’s funny, because when I was first professional, I played here a few times and didn’t like it too much. I remember one year I didn’t play because I didn’t want to come. Two years ago, I took a wild card here, and everything changed.”
The 6-foot-9 two-time American defending champ defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-0, 7-6 (7). In a match that lasted just 59 minutes, Isner served 13 aces. On grass.
Not believing anything is possible is the crabgrass in the lawn of life.
Results from the Newport Round 2 matches on Wednesday:
Nicolas Mahut (France) beat Tim Smyczek (U.S.) 6-2 6-4
2-John Isner (U.S.) beat Adrian Mannarino (France) 6-0 7-6(7)
Michal Przysiezny (Poland) beat 8-Rajeev Ram (U.S.) 2-6 7-5 6-3
4-Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) beat Prakash Amritraj (India) 6-2 6-1
Michael Russell (U.S.) beat Alex Kuznetsov (U.S.) 6-3 6-4
Jan Hernych (Czech Republic) beat Jack Sock (U.S.) 6-3 4-6 6-4
Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) beat Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 6-4 1-6 6-3
3-Igor Sijsling (Netherlands) beat Yuichi Sugita (Japan) 6-3 6-4