The final spot in the ATP Finals will be decided on the final day of the regular season. Jack Sock will clinch his first berth in the London ATP Finals and win his first Masters title Sunday as he takes on the surprising qualifier Filip Krajinovic.
Should Sock lose, then the 8th spot goes to Pablo Carreno Busta.
Krajinovic ended hopes of an all-American final and John Isner’s chances for London by stunning the giant in three sets 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(5).
In a tight third set, Isner had break chances early then was up 3-0 and 4-2 in the breaker, but the 25-year-old came up with the goods at the right time.
“The emotions are amazing. It was a tough mental match,” Krajinovic said. “When I served for the match, my hand was shaking. It was tough to control the emotions, but I knew I have to stay aggressive all the way to the end. I did it, and it’s the best day in my life.”
By reaching the final, the 77th-ranked Krajinovic will be seeded at the Australian Open, that after losing in qualies at the US Open. And he’s trying to become the first qualifier to win a Masters title since Albert Portas won in Hamburg in 2001 (Portas was also the last player to win his maiden ATP title at a Masters).
This fall, the Serb has 19 of his last 20 matches including qualifying, two Challenger titles and a Moscow second round where he suffered his lone loss to Ricadis Berankis.
“I suffered a lot and I’ve had a lot of injuries in my career,” said Krajinovic. “But I stayed calm. I knew that one day everything will come back. I didn’t believe it’s going to happen this year, this tournament. Coming from qualies it’s an amazing feeling. Now I’m Top 40 in the world. I didn’t expect that also. My goal was to be Top 100 at the end of the year. And now, I’m just happy and emotions are big.
“A couple years ago I was starting to play better and better and I broke into the Top 100. Then all of a sudden they saw that I have an extra bone in my wrist. So I had to take care of that. It was hard. It was mentally really tough because getting older and older, all the sponsors said no to me. It was hard for me, but my family stayed with me and now I’m here.”
In the second match, French favorite Juliean Benneteau’s hopes for a first ATP title (0-10 in finals) were dashed by Sock who cruised 7-5, 6-2.
“To be completely honest, I had no idea I could still make London even if I was to win the tournament. I didn’t know if I was going to be even close. I had a good start to the year and a very bad middle and towards the end of the year. To be able to regroup and get that confidence back and play some of the tennis I’ve been able to play in the last few matches is big for me,” Sock said after his semi-final win against home favourite Julien Benneteau. “I should have been out first round here, in my first match, so I’m kind of just playing with house money now as you’d say. And just enjoying it.”
Neither Sock nor Krajinovic have been to a Masters final, and for Krajinovic it’s his first ATP final.
“I know I have the game, that’s for sure,” Krajinovic. “I just need to believe and to play with those guys every week. So next year it’s going to be like that, playing with those guys. I’m going to be ready and then we’ll see.”
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