Sock sets up tilt for double glory at Paris Masters
A first Masters series title and a first appearance at the end of season championships in London: those are the stakes for the 25-year-old American Jack Sock when he takes on Filip Krajinovic from Serbia on Sunday in the final of the Paris Masters.
On Saturday night, Sock advanced to the showdown with a 7-5 6-2 win over the Frenchman Julien Benneteau on centre court. Krajinovic had earlier upset the ninth seed John Isner in three sets to progress to his first Masters series final and halt any prospect of an all American showdown.
Considered as the most prestigious tournaments on the circuit after the seven round Grand Slam events in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York, the six rounds at the nine Masters series offer 1,000 ranking points to the winner and 500 points to the loser. The victor in Paris in 2017 will also receive 853,430 euros while a cheque for 418,450 euros is handed to the runner-up.
Sock said he relished the chance for double glory in his first meeting with his fellow 25-year-old. “I had the pressure of playing against a French player in front of a French crowd,” said Sock. “The atmosphere was electric. But I was able to go out and swing big, play some good tennis and get through.
“The final will be the chance to seize an opportunity and compartmentalise all the things that will come with winning.”
After a first round bye, Sock came from a double break down in the final set to beat the unseeded Briton Kyle Edmund in the last 32. He disposed of the 17th seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the last 16 and veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-final.
Benneteau, who had defied the form book to reach the semis by beating 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seventh seed David Goffin and third seed Marin Cilic, threatened another upset in the first set of the semi-final before showing all of his 36 years and wilting in the second.
“To be honest I had no idea that I could qualify for London even if I won here in Paris,” said Sock. “I didn’t even know if I was close.
“I had a good start to the year, then a very bad middle and towards the end of the year I’ve been able to regroup and get the confidence back. To play some of the tennis that I’ve been able to play in the last few matches is big for me.”
World number 77 Krajinovic has been a sensation at the Paris Masters. He emerged from the two qualifying rounds and has picked off a succession of higher ranked players since entering the main draw. He was handed a prodigious slice of good fortune when top seed Rafael Nadal withdrew from their quarter-final clash with a knee injury.
“I heard Krajinovic’s name a lot when he was just coming onto the pro circuit,” said Sock. “And then he had a lot of bad luck with his body and injuries.
“The potential has always been there. Everyone knows he is a very talented player and he has been showcasing that this week in Paris.
“Everyone blossoms at a different time and everyone peaks at a different time. He has been showing his skills this week. I am going to have to bring my A game to the final if I want to win.”