ROLEX PARIS MASTERS From October 27th to November 4th 2018

Super Sock storms back to taste glory

The overwhelming favourite going into his first big final, and with a place at the World Tour Finals at stake, Sock could have been forgiven for slipping on the banana skin posed by Filip Krajinovic, the free-wheeling qualifier with nothing to lose. But instead, the Nebraska native overcame the hurdles in his path, steadying himself after going a set down and eventually cruising over the finish line 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. The fourth title of the 25-year-old's career is by far his most prestigious to date and puts him in distinguished company as only the fourth American winner of the competition, after Tim Mayotte (1987), Pete Sampras (1995 and 1997) and Andre Agassi (1994 and 1999). As a cherry on the cake, it also secures him a coveted ticket to the season-ender in London.

The victory was anything but a formality for the No.16 seed, who was rocked back on his heels early on by some fearless hitting from Krajinovic, who seemed entirely unfazed by the occasion and continued to make his chances count. Having converted 74% of his break points beforehand over the course of the week (14/19), the Serb pounced at the first time of asking on Sunday, breaking to edge 4-2 ahead thanks to a Sock double fault. Though the surprise package followed that up with a poor game to gift back parity, the American returned the favour at 6-5, coughing up a series of untimely errors to hand Krajinovic the set.

Sock did not let this setback get to him, taking the positives from the opener and doubling down on his ultra-simple game plan, which involved dictating rallies with his forehand and pummelling Krajinovic's backhand into submission. Indeed, he aimed some 60% of his strokes to that wing in the second set, while cutting down on his unforced errors (committing just nine) through better shot selection and capitalising on the Serb's relative dip on his own delivery (62% first serves compared to 73% in the first set). After going a double break up, Sock dropped serve at 4-1, but then bounced back to win eight of nine points in his last two service games and level the encounter (5-7, 6-4). 

With Krajinovic increasingly flagging physically, Sock was clearly in the driving seat as the decider commenced. And, at 1-1 on the Serb's serve, the American landed consecutive clutch passing shots – one forehand, one backhand – down the line in order to take a 2-1 lead. More of the same followed at 3-1, when the qualifier's net-rushing tactics were brutally dismantled. What had been a highly competitive match turned into a procession as Krajinovic capitulated, in spite of his attempts to gee himself up and cut loose. Sock needed no second invitation and gleefully sealed a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 triumph to become the Rolex Paris Masters' first American champion since Agassi 18 years ago. 

 

 

Groupe 1

Groupe 2