Jack Sock Emulates Roddick: From Nebraska, With Love - UBITENNIS
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Jack Sock Emulates Roddick: From Nebraska, With Love




Jack Sock reaches the knockout stages at the ATP Finals with an exciting win over Sascha Zverev. He is the first American to reach the semifinals since fellow Nebraskan Andy Roddick.


LONDON – Once upon a time the United States were the biggest tennis country in the world, but in the past ten years the only state of Nebraska has lived up to that reputation. For the first time since Andy Roddick reached the semis at the ATP Finals ten years ago, the United States have a player in the final four thanks to Jack Sock – another Nebraska native. Sock arrived in London after capping off a dream week in Paris, where the American unexpectedly captured his first Masters 1000 title. Despite being the underdog in the upcoming semifinal clash against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, Jack’s chances shouldn’t be underestimated. Last night the American was also the underdog against Sascha Zverev in the deciding round-robin match of their group, but Sock perfectly matched the young German’s powerful game and capitalized on his opponent’s inconsistency.

In his post-match press conference, Zverev said that this will be a very tough loss to come to terms with: “Today’s (Thursday’s) match and the one against Coric at the US Open have been my worst and most painful matches of the year. Today I didn’t play as bad as in New York, but the nerves got the best of me and affected my performance.” Zverev was trying to become to first German to reach the semifinals since Rainer Schuettler in 2003.

When the United Kingdom stopped producing great champions after Fred Perry and Bunny Austin in 1936-37, the United States and Australia “monopolized” and dominated the sport of tennis for decades until a few European players such as Ilie Nastase and Bjorn Borg started to emerge.

The U.S. and Australia won almost every major tournament and put a stronghold on the Davis Cup competition that at the time measured the real power and strength of all tennis countries. At the end of the 1970s, 42 of the top 100 players in the world were American.

Much to our sport’s entertainment, it is fair to say that most of the American players have always had a charismatic personality along with a great sense of humor. Andy Roddick is one of the most hilarious tennis players that I have ever interviewed in post-match press conferences. Sock is extremely funny and entertaining too, probably since he was always a top doubles player and is now starting to become a top singles player. Great doubles players are often more genuine and less egocentric than singles players. They are certainly less arrogant and self-absorbed.

In his post-match press conference, Sock didn’t fail to entertain. Someone asked him about the penalty point that he received after furiously sending a ball in the upper stands of the arena: “That penalty point was a stupid mistake from my side, but… it worked! I won 17 of the next 22 points,” Jack said with a smile.

At some point another reported asked him if he felt that Zverev was chocking at the end of the third set. At that very moment, Zverev was leaving the other press room nearby, perfectly heard the question, walked inside the Players’ Lounge and slammed the door. “Not the greatest moment to ask,” Sock exclaimed to everyone’s amusement.

Federer’s No.1 quest

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In the other match on Thursday, Roger Federer scored his 13th consecutive win, after capturing the titles in Shanghai and Basel. Federer’s resilience in a hard-fought three set victory was quite surprising, since the outcome of the match was irrelevant for the tournament with Roger having already booked his semifinal spot and his opponent Marin Cilic having been eliminated after the first two round-robin matches. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that Roger Federer is a super-champion and Marin Cilic has a US Open title and a Wimbledon final in his resume: If they decide to take the court, they will battle to win in every circumstance. We should also consider that the match itself was worth $191,000 and 200 ATP ranking points, which can prove vital for Roger in his quest for the number one spot next year.

If Federer wins the ATP Finals, he will finish the year with 10,505. The gap between him and Nadal could potentially be reduced to 140 points come the end of the Australian Open if Federer win both in London and Melbourne. With Nadal missing Melbourne due to his knee, which remains a strong possibility.

When asked about the opportunity to overthrow Rafa early next year, Federer said: “I have to defend 2,000 points in Australia, while Rafa doesn’t have to defend that many. The No. 1 ranking is not a realistic goal for me in the next few months.” Federer will also have to defend the Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami, as a result Nadal will most likely stay at No. 1 until the Monte-Carlo Masters in the spring.

“Being No. 1 has always been one of my main goals throughout my career, but now at 36 years of age it isn’t anymore. I would make a mistake if I started chasing such a goal again, my body – and my back in particular – would probably not allow me to do it. Rafa was the best this year and he deserves to be where he is. I am very happy for him, because he had a very difficult year in 2016, just like I did. Hopefully I will be healthy in Australia and give myself a chance to defend my title.”

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )


Laver Back In the Conversation For Greatest Player?

Daniil Medvedev thwarted Djokovic’s Calendar Year Grand Slam ambitions and is ready to take over as the best in the game.




Who’s the greatest player ever?


How about Rod Laver, the owner of two Calendar Grand Slams?

Or what about Rafa Nadal, the owner of 21 major singles titles (including Olympic Gold)?

Or what about 20-20-20-Laver?


Since Novak Djokovic failed in his bid to win a Calendar Grand Slam on Sunday, I nominate the last of the three possibilities. 20-20-20-Laver sounds like a winner.

For Djokovic just to enter the conversation was a major achievement, and that was spurred by the Serbian’s bid for a Calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended that conversation on Sunday, at least for now, with his straight-set 4-4-4 dismantling of Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.


As 2021 turned out, it was a really disappointing year for Djokovic, even though he won the year’s first three Grand Slam events. Most players would be out celebrating if they won three Grand Slams in one year.

The loss to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics ended Novak’s Golden Grand Slam. And then Medvedev took care of the Calendar Grand Slam talk and the possibility of Djokovic breaking a 20-20-20 deadlock with Nadal and Roger Federer.

So, what’s next? I doubt that Novak is planning to skip the Australian Open in January. Even that one won’t be easy for Djokovic as a result of what has happened in late summer.


Djokovic has practically owned the Australian Open with nine titles in Melbourne, and eight of the last 11. But Medvedev and Zverev will be major obstacles for Djokovic in Melbourne, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Australian Open isn’t likely to be a picnic for Novak, even if Federer and Nadal skip the trip. If so, Federer and Nadal will be leaving the Australian Open in capable hands.

Things should start heating up by the quarterfinals Down Under.

By the way, Djokovic is 34 years old. That’s about the age Nadal started having trouble winning Grand Slams.


Medvedev beat Djokovic at just about everything he tried on Sunday. Djokovic was never in the game on serving competition or powerful forehands.

Those areas belonged to the 25-year-old Russian.

And movement? On this day, Medvedev had a picnic. The 6-6 first-time Grand Slam winner was everywhere with his amazing quickness. Djokovic couldn’t put a dent in his baseline defense.

Medvedev even out-did Djokovic in the Serbian’s usually solid drop shot department, pinning  even more disappointment on Novak.

Novak even caused a ball girl to change directions during the match as he swung his racket near the surface in  frustration after losing a point. Later, he punished his racket by smashing it into the court and destroying it.


The key to the relatively easy win for Medvedev was his serve. He was a perfect 15-for-15 on first-serve points in the opening set.

Medvedev obviously had little trouble with his serve until he was ready to end the match. With Medvedev owning a match point at 5-2 in the third set, the crowd tried to help Djokovic. Only then when the crowd got into the act of trying to break Medvedev’s attention did he double-fault twice in a row before netting a forehand to give Djokovic the game.

But in the final game of the match, Medvedev was ready for the crowd attack, although he double-faulted another match point away before ending the match with a big serve out wide for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic managed only to hit the bottom of the net with his backhand return.

And suddenly, the tall Russian looks like the best player in the game.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

The British sensation shocked the tennis world – can she keep it up in the coming years?




They played in the largest tennis stadium in the world.


They were teenagers. They achieved a dream early in their careers.

It just as easily could have been a junior championship a year earlier in their careers.

Only a few people would have been watching then. Such an event might not even have drawn newspaper coverage.


This meeting was much bigger and more important. The two participants would be $2.7 million richer between them before the day ended. They would become famous the world over, at least for now.

But this was Saturday, 9/11/21.

Real life now sets in. There probably are at least 100 other players in the world who are just as outstanding as Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. Yet, most of them will never be involved in a Grand Slam singles final.


What Raducanu and Fernandez accomplished will never be forgotten, always listed in tennis annals.

England will always be proud of its new Grand Slam champion. At long last, Virginia Wade has company.

And Canada will never forget its feisty Grand Slam runner-up.

They stood the test while other more touted and talented players buckled at the knees. High-ranked players crumbled at the thought of losing to a mere teenager.

Next time, that advantage probably won’t exist.


Raducanu and Fernandez played the final like the teenagers they are.

Raducanu came close to making it a one-sided result when she held match point twice with a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Fernandez did not give up on her left-handed game that Raducanu had conquered before in the junior ranks.

After losing both points and the game to make the match closer, Raducanu fought off a pair of break points in the next game before making good on her third match point for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The British 18-year-old generally outplayed the 19-year-old Fernandez most of the 111-minute final. Raducanu had more firepower on her serve and ground strokes.


Raducanu played like a tour veteran, even if it was only her fourth tour-level event. It was her 10th straight win without dropping a set, counting her three wins in qualifying just to get into the main draw. No women’s qualifier before even had advanced to a Grand Slam final.

She has the game to win consistently on the tour, but probably not strong enough to challenge the Top 10 players and Grand Slam titlists right away. She’s now no longer under the radar. Everyone wants to beat a Grand Slam champion.

This may have been just a one-shot opening that Raducanu took full advantage of to win a Grand Slam title.  Just in case the road ahead gets bumpy, she might want to be thrifty with the $1.8 million payday.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Novak Djokovic Was Pushed To An Amazing Performance

Zverev fell just short of beating the world N.1, and now Medvedev is the last obstacle still standing on his path to a Calendar Year Grand Slam




Novak Djokovic was simply amazing Friday night.


True, he made a few mistakes against Alexander Zverev, but not when they counted most.

Zverev also was superb, but his mistakes came when they counted really big.

For those reasons, Djokovic is getting ready to play for the unthinkable. No one had thought much about a Calendar Grand Slam until back in June when Djokovic shocked the tennis world with a victory over Rafa Nadal at the French Open.

By the time Wimbledon came around without Roger Federer and Nadal in the field, the odds were high that Djokovic actually could achieve a Calendar Grand Slam. And then he won Wimbledon and in the process turned the race for most Grand Slam titles into a 20-20-20 battle.


When Federer and Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open, all of Djokovic’s goals except a Golden Grand Slam when he lost to Zverev at the Olympics were in play.

Nearly two weeks later, Djokovic is one victory away from breaking out of the 20-20-20 deadlock as well as completing a rare Calendar Grand Slam.

Zverev pressed Djokovic into playing his very best to escape with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals. Only a cold start to the fifth set chilled Zverev’s hopes of spoiling Novak’s dreams.

Even after losing the first five games of the fifth set, Zverev still came close to making things interesting by winning the next two games and going to 30-30 in the eighth game.


Zverev’s improving game, and his big strokes and serves probably were enough to make Novak hope he won’t have to face Zverev’s hard balls again in January at the Australian Open.

That leaves only Daniil Medvedev between Djokovic and immortality.

Medvedev will have to be at his best to beat Novak. The slender 6-6 Russian can’t afford even a brief meltdown if he is to take Djokovic to the wire.

Medvedev appeared to be in awe of Djokovic when the two met in  this year’s Australian Open final.  Djokovic won that one easily in straight sets.


Medvedev’s game is a piece of work. He is completely unpredictable.

His whip forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. He backs it up with incredible movement.

It all depends on whether Medvedev can stick with Novak until the end. If Medvedev is still there, Novak likely will feel the heavy legs from his 214-minute bout with Zverev.

Not even Djokovic can out-move Medvedev. And the Russian’s uniquely quick serve has plenty of pop. He is due to win a Grand Slam.

But Medvedev will have to pull off a miracle against one of the smartest and slyest players tennis has ever seen if he is to win this U.S. Open.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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