There was so much on the line for Jack Sock on Sunday at the Paris Masters. A first Masters 1000 title. Qualifying for his first year-end ATP Finals. Finishing the year as American No. 1 for the first time.
Sock lost the first set Sunday, then rebounded to complete his career-best regular season, defeating qualifier Filip Krajinovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.
“There have been a lot of firsts,” Sock said on court afterwards. “It started at the French Open with my first fourth-round of a Slam, now I’ve won my first Masters 1000 in Paris. This will be my first time in the Top 10 and this will be the first time making the year-end finals. So there’s a lot going on right now emotionally and I can’t wait to enjoy it all with my team.”
In one week the 25 year old vaulted from No. 24 to No. 8 in the 2017-only standings, a feat he says he didn’t realize was possible, not knowing he could qualify for the year-end event entering the tournament.
Sock also ended a seven-year drought for an American raising the trophy at a Masters-series event, since Andy Roddick at Miami in 2010. The total between the two dates was 69 straight Masters 1000 titles for European players. He’s also the first Paris Masters winner in 18 years (Andre Agassi in 1999) and the first American at the year-end finals in six years (Mardy Fish in 2011).
“I’d be lying if I said that 18 months ago I was mentally prepared to win matches like this,” Sock said. “It’s something I’ve worked really hard towards. It’s something that, if you put your nose down and keep fighting, good things will happen. Crazy things can happen. That’s sports and that’s why we play.”
In the third set Sock broke for a 2-1 lead then rolled, failing to drop another game as Krajinovic looked out of gas after a long three-set semifinal on Saturday over John Isner.
“I had a golf trip with Isner next week in Augusta, which would have been pretty special, but I’ll look forward to seeing him at his wedding in a couple months,” Sock said of his new plans for the year-end championships in London.
It was Sock’s career-best third title of the year after smaller titles at Auckland and Delray Beach. Sock in reaching the year-end final in one week’s time leapfrogged Pablo Carreno Busta, Isner, Sam Querrey, Kevin Anderson, Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Roberto Bautista Agut and Albert Ramos-Vinolas to qualify in London.
Krajinovic was competing in only his second tour-level event of 2017, approximately two years after wrist surgery that put his promising career on hold.
“From qualies I beat so many good guys with a better ranking than me,” said Krajinovic, who won five challenger-level titles this year. “I’m sad I didn’t finish it stronger but that’s the tennis. Somebody has to win and he was better today. I know that I will work even more right now.”
Sock improved to 4-4 in career finals. The 25-year-old Serb Krajinovic is 0-1 in career finals, and will leap from No. 77 to being seeded at the 2018 Australian Open.
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