Jack Sock


We were very lucky to sit front row at the US Open yesterday for American hopeful Sloane Stephens (serving above) and Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary.  From everything we saw prior, Sloane Stephens looked to us to be if not the best, then the 2nd best American tennis prospect in the land, and her 6-2 lead after one set seemed to bear that out.  And then the middle set and a half came.  Though the 18 year old Stephens gutted out the victory by winning a break of serve while Jani was serving for the match, and although she trailed 3-2 in the deciding breaker and then reeled off the last 5 points, we’d rather be hard on her than easy.  Let’s be real.  Is Stephens to be lauded for beating a 5’4 girl 2 years older than her who also never won a match at a major (or even competed in one before yesterday) and who is ranked about 225th in the world?

Stephens looked great early on.  She was so quick around the court, stalking the baseline, and it seemed like Jani could not hit an out and out winner.  Stephens was getting to everything.  The first set came and went and Jani looked headed for home.  In the 2nd set, Stephens looked tight, went down a break, and got no traction whatsoever on Jani’s service games.  She lost the set 6-3, and frankly, she looked like she was a junior again.  A lot of credit goes to Jani for the turn around.  Stephens has a laser beam forehand, not a lot of spin, that she gets on top of and that’s clearly her kill shot.  Jani has tactics, and variety, and against a one dimensional player, it was almost enough.

On American hards, Stephens has no business losing to a player like this, despite her limitations, to this point.  Did irk us that she hit only 3 volleys and blew an easy overhead?  Totally.  And by the way, if you are reading the match stats that counted her as 11 for 20 on her approaches, a poor percentage indeed, you might want to take more seriously the percentage than the credited approaches because she was moored to the baseline and we have good reason to question that stat.  Stephens is uncomfortable anywhere inside the tennis court.  Jani’s best play all night was the drop shot, which was a horrible sitting duck most of the time, but since Stephens can only go side to side and hates taking her hand off the racquet, just about every dropper hit to her backhand worked out for Jani, even when the droppers made the service line.

It’s not like Jani is Roger Federer.  She employed a little topspin, a lot of short balls, some approaches and some slice.  Stephens bashed flat forehands and hit looping backhands.  We can’t recall her hitting one slice backhand or taking her hand off the racquet, even for a lunge, once.  And she did not go for any winners on the backhand side.  It’s no way to win a match and at about the 1:40 mark, it looked like it had lost her the match, down a break at 4-5 in the 3rd.  Stephens did have a pretty live first serve, and she is well conditioned, and when doubt crept in for Jani in that 10th game, Stephens picked it up.  She had to or she was going home.  And she had the crowd, though there was a small but hardened Hungarian contingent annoyingly yelling out calls and shushing the rest of us, who we were happy to see, get shushed in the end.

I was preparing some comments to heckle Stephens with, or rather, constructive criticism, to nail her with if she lost.  I was gonna yell, “No variety Stephens!”  That would have been putting it kindly.  She’s only 18 and she has time to get comfortable with her secondary shots and develop more tennis sense and work on her backhand.  But still, I was not that impressed.

We’ve been away.  Now we’re back.  Odds for today’s tennis out at Flushing:

12:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Juan Martin Del Potro:  – 10000

Filippo Volandri:  + 2500

____________________________________

Rui Machado:  + 600

Robin Haase:  – 1200

____________________________________________

Denis Istomin:  – 175

Ryan Sweeting:  + 125

_________________________________________

Shuai Peng:  – 400

Tsvetana Pironkova:  + 250

__ __ __

1:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Alex Bogomolov:  – 1200

Steve Johnson:  + 600

___________________________________

Somdev Devvarman:  + 2500

Andy Murray:  – 10000

_________________________________

Marion Bartoli:  – 225

Christina McHale:  + 165

__ __ __

2:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Ricardo Mello:  + 1000

Gilles Simon:  – 2500

__ __ __

2:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Robby Ginepri:  – 180

Joao Souza:  + 130

______________________________

Nadia Petrova:  – 300

Polona Hercog:  + 200

_____________________________________

Coco Vandeweghe:  + 700

Sam Stosur:  – 1500

__ __ __

3:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Dominika Cibulkova:  – 400

Irina Falconi:  + 250

__________________________________

Venus Williams:  + 110

Sabine Lisicki:  – 150

__ __ __

4:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Jack Sock:  + 185

Marc Gicquel:  – 275

_____________________________________

Yanina Wickmayer:  – 375

Alla Kudryatseva:  + 235

__ __ __

4:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Angelique Kerber:  + 550

Agnieszka Radwanska:  – 1000

_________________________________________

Flavia Pennetta:  – 400

Romina Oprandi:  + 250

__ __ __

5:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Marcos Baghdatis:  + 200

John Isner:  – 300

__ __ __

7:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Andy Roddick:  – 1500

Michael Russell:  + 700

__ __ __

9:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Anastasiya Yakimova:  + 1200

Maria Sharapova:  – 3000

……

A couple of things to mention here.  How often does Venus get a plus next to her name?  Nightmare matchup for Lisicki.  We’d like to see ugly 2-handers, Peng and Bartoli, out of here.  Especially Bartoli, facing young Jersey girl Christina McHale.  Angelique Kerber defeated our little darling, Lauren Davis.  We could see her being a nice bet against Radwanska who seems to be an awfully big favorite.  Who’s betting 1000 to win 100 on a Radwanska girl?  We’d like to think Coco and Jack have a shot today.  Especially Sock, against the very ancient Gicquel.  We are liking Hercoq against the burly Petrova, especially after she steamrolled Mattek-Sands, 1 and 3.  We like Falconi over Cibulkova, thinking she’s played well and that it’s a great matchup for her.

Romina Oprandi in action after predictably taking out Oudin (does she have to get bageled in every loss?).  Isner-Baghdatis might be the best match of the day.  We like Steve Johnson, USC’s NCAA champ, against Bogomolov, who we have never seen as – 1200 against anyone, and maybe never even seen as a favorite. 

Big day for USA potentially.  And Madison Keys could have gotten us off very well by finishing off Lucie Safarova.  Not to be, once again showing it takes more than defense to win at this level.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

World #173, American Ryan Harrison (above).

Ryan Harrison, the 18 year old standout American tennis prospect and Texas product now living in Florida, defeated 2010 US Open Junior Boys Champion and New York Junior Tennis League alum Jack Sock today in 4 hard fought sets, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4 at the finals of the USTA’s Australian Open Playoff Final in Norcross, Georgia today.  Harrison has now played his way into a 2nd consecutive Australian Open wildcard, defeating Jessie Levine in the final last year.

Harrison was eliminated in the main draw by the entertaining Janko Tippsarevic, who famously took Roger Federer to 5 sets in the 3rd round of the 2008 Australian Open, and who had Roger down 2 sets to 1 before the great man made his charge, in an electricity charged night match on Rod Laver.  Harrison has now qualified for his 3rd major and second consecutive major, having made the main draw of the 2010 US Open where he won his first round match against Ivan Ljubicic before dropping a tough 5 setter in round 2 to a one-hander we’ve had our eye on for his impressively fluid game, Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.

We feel Harrison is supremely suited to the forgiving Australian Open Plexi-cushion surface, which is rated kindly as medium fast.  Harrison’s speed around the court should be on display, and he could do some damage should he not face a top 5 calibre player in round one.  In fact, we are going to go out on a limb and say Harrison turns in his best major showing to date next month in Melbourne.

Tough break for Sock though, who will rebound and who is sure to make New York and Nebraska proud. 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/harrison-and-sock-square-off-for-wildcard-berth-into-main-draw-of-the-australian-open/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/coco-vandeweghe-moves-up-59-spots-after-best-week-yet-us-ladies-in-top-500/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/nyc-product-coco-vandeweghe-stuns-rezai-goerges-in-japan/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/young-american-coco-vandeweghe-stopped-in-tokyo-by-azarenka-camel-toe-shot/

Also a tough break today and a bit of a surprise for Coco Vandeweghe, who has had quite an end to her season, as the 19 year old scored impressive victories over quality opponents such as French top 20 player Aravane Rezai, and who had caught the eye of US Federation Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.  Vandeweghe hung tight in the Fed Cup final where she replaced Venus Williams, and gave 2010 French Open Ladies Champion Francesca Schiavone quite a run for her money, despite several hiccups on her service games.

Today 17 year old Lauren Davis of Ohio who is currently world #444 and who trains in Florida at the Evert Academy, routed Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-2 in a non comppetitve match, earning the younger player her first entrance into the main draw of a major.  We’ll say it again: several young Americans are deserving of discretionary wildcards, including Vandeweghe, Sock, Young, Rhyne Williams, and hard serving Pennsylvania native Alison Riske.

The US and Australian Tennis Federations have a reciprocation agreement in which they trade each other 1 discretionary wildcard on both the men’s and women’s side, so we think there’s a good chance for Sock and Vandeweghe.  As for one of our favorites, Donald Young?  At this point he has had so much hype and so many chances, we doubt we’ll see him, unfortunately, anywhere on the main tour outside of the United States until he can earn his way in.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

US Open 2010 Boy’s Champion Jack Sock (above).

Last night US Open Boy’s champ Jack Sock, an alum of the very impressive New York Junior Tennis League, defeated up and down American tennis prodigy Donald Young in 3 tight sets, advancing to the finals of the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, Georgia.

Today Sock will take on the extremely impressive American youngster Ryan Harrison, who defeated Ivan Ljubicic in the first round of the US Open, and who took the wildly talented Russian one-hander Sergiy Stakhovsky to a 5th set tie-breaker in round 2, losing 8 points to 6 in that breaker.  Harrison defeated University of Tennessee sophomore and native Tennessean, Rhyne Williams to reach the final, 4-6, 6-2, 9-7, also last night.

Williams is fresh off an impressive tournament victory, as he took home the trophy at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, on the strength of his very impressive return of serve.  Williams scored the surprising victory by upsetting top seeded Alexander Domijan in the first round, and then defeated Steve Johnson of USC in the final.  Williams was the only player to break Johnson’s serve in the entire tournament, which was played in Flushing at the National Tennis Center.

It would be an injustice if the Australian Tennis Federation did not see fit to dispense a few discretionary wildcards to this bumper crop of young Americans.  In our opinion, Sock, Williams, Harrison and Young are all worthy of direct entry into this year’s main draw in Melbourne.

That said, we’re sure the Aussies will throw bones to journeyman Australian bums like Alun Jones and Peter Luczak, who no doubt, will be steamrolled in round 1.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)