In almost perfect tennis-playing conditions at the BB&T Atlanta Open, American Jack Sock defeated Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in straight sets, 7-6(6), 6-2, in a quarterfinal match. It was the first meeting between the two players. With Sock being broken early in the first set, it showed how sometimes it takes even the strongest a player a few games to figure out how to best approach the opponent across the net. The match started slowly for Sock, but when it mattered, at 5-4 in the first set, Sock dug down deep and chipped some returns back and started to gain control of things. Ultimately, Lacko had one shaky forehand too many in the first set tie-break, allowing Sock to earn a first-set victory. From then on, Sock maintained the momentum and displayed the variety in his game that so many have overlooked for so long while focusing on his lethal forehand. Sock effected three consecutive breaks in the second set, winning the match in one hour and 20 minutes.
The Sock vs. Lacko quarterfinal meeting just might be a preview of the upcoming (September 12-14) Davis Cup match in Chicago — a meeting between the USA and Slovakia. Let’s hope that Jim Courier was tuned to ESPN2 to see the result tonight in Atlanta.
Sock’s quarterfinal victory brings him to a semifinal where he will face fellow American, and world number 12, John Isner. Isner defeated Marinko Matosevic of Australia in quarterfinal action, with a score of 7-6, 6-4. Isner has played Sock four times thus far, with Isner winning three of those matches. While that may indicate that Isner has the upper hand, it should be noted that Sock defeated Isner 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., a mere two weeks ago. The Atlanta semifinal match will be the third time they’ve faced each other this year. The two are frequent practice partners at home in Tampa, Florida, as well as on the ATP tour.
Top-seeded Isner’s biggest challenge may not be Sock’s drop shots; it may be the stifling heat and humidity of the hot Atlanta July afternoon. Scheduled to begin at 3:00pm (and airing live on ESPN2), the match will commence at the peak of the day’s heat, which is predicted to reach into the 90-degree range. In the quarterfinal, there were many times when Isner looked like he was ready to throw in the towel. The 6’ 10” Isner moved ponderously between points and gasped for air after long rallies. Whether or not the quick turnaround between the quarterfinal and the semifinal will allow John Isner’s body enough time to repair remains to be seen. But, then again, if I remember correctly from last year’s tournament here in Atlanta, Isner seems to play his best when he is fighting the heat.
As for Jack Sock… it’s amazing what having to figure out how to get a Wimbledon trophy back home will do for one’s confidence (Sock and partner Vasek Pospisil won the 2014 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Doubles title). Sock has never looked better on the court. His physicality and his mental game are at an all-time high. Sock is the epitome of potential-being-fulfilled, and the confidence he is showing could make for a very exciting U.S. Open this year.
Isner and Sock, Sock and Isner. On Monday morning, they will officially be the top two USA players in the ATP rankings. Two great players, two reasons to watch some exciting tennis on Saturday afternoon. In this case, it’s American tennis fans who win.
RESULTS – JULY 25, 2014
Singles – Quarterfinals
 J Isner (USA) d  M Matosevic (AUS) 76(8) 64
D Sela (ISR) d  V Pospisil (CAN) 75 16 62
J Sock (USA) d L Lacko (SVK) 76(6) 62
B Becker (GER) d [LL] T de Bakker (NED) 64 62
Doubles – Quarterfinals
S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) d  S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) 76(2) 75
N Barrientos (COL) / V Estrella Burgos (DOM) d  C Guccione (AUS) / J Smith (AUS) 75 36 10-6
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2014
STADIUM start 12:30 pm:
K King (USA) / M Venus (NZL) vs S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm:
 J Isner (USA) vs J Sock (USA)
Not Before 8:00 pm:
D Sela (ISR) vs B Becker (GER)
 V Pospisil (CAN) / J Sock (USA) vs N Barrientos (COL) / V Estrella Burgos (DOM)