Jack Sock Extend Cilic’s ATP Finals Misery, Despite Fire Alarm Mayhem

LONDON: Jack Sock has continued Marin Cilic’s nightmare run at the ATP Finals with a marathon 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5), win in the group stages on Tuesday.

The world No.9 entered the match with a fresh sense of belief following his recent run to the Paris Masters title. In contrast, the same can’t be said about former US Open champion Cilic, who has lost six out of his previous seven matches played at the O2 Arena. Including a three-set loss to Alexander Zverev on Sunday. Furthermore, he had a 0-2 head-to-head record against Sock going into the match, who won both times on a hard court surface.

“That was a tough one for sure,” Sock said during his on-court interview after the match.
“It’s been an interesting morning so far, the fire alarm went off at 4am and we had to exit the building. But I love playing here in London, it’s an amazing atmosphere, you make me feel like home.
“I’m just excited to win and keep myself alive.”

Preparation for the clash was far from smooth for Sock. At 4am on the day of the match he and his girlfriend was forced to leave their hotel room due to a fire alarm. After debating for ‘five to seven’ minutes about if they should evacuate or not.

“It was probably one of the most annoying noises I’ve ever heard in my entire life.” He joked during his press conference. “We’re on the second floor of the hotel. I guess
whatever happened in the hotel was on the second floor.”
“I went outside, saw Rafa, saw Dominic. Everyone was all bundled up, freezing cold, just wanting to get back inside.” He continued.

Facing Sock, who currently lies tenth on the ATP’s Infosys service leaderboard, it was inevitable that Cilic would be pushed to his limits. Exchanging breaks of serves at the start of the match due to some tentative play from both, the opening set were a stern test of nerves. At 5-5, Cilic was on the verge of being broken for the second time before a stroke of luck saved him. Facing break point, a ball hit by him brushed the top of the net to land on the other side as he nudged ahead 6-5.

Cilic’s relentless play frustrated Sock. As the Croat intensified his aggression, he slammed a ball into the net on set point. Prompting him to smash another ball into the crowd and receive a code violation.

“Souvenir for a fan way up there (in the crowd). Who don’t get to sit that close. They get to keep a ball now. It’s kind of cool.” He commented about the situation.

Fortunately for the American, his response to the setback emulated the play he has displayed during the later stages of this season. On October 30th Sock was ranked 24th in the world, but has managed to climb to a career-best position of ninth following his maiden Masters win in Paris. Capitalizing on Cilic’s 14 unforced errors made during set two, he forced proceedings into a decider with ease. Firing his seventh ace of the match to revive his chances.

Continuing to battle for his first ever win in the tournament, the 25-year-old rallied back from a 0-3 deficit in the decider. Drawing praise and admiration from both the crowd and Cilic.

“I think he’s playing good tennis, quite aggressive. When he’s playing well, he’s definitely very dangerous.” Cilic said about his opponent.

With little to distinguish between both players, it was only suitable that a tiebreaker decided the outcome. Once again Sock battled back from the brink. Recovering from 2-4 to level before three consecutive Cilic errors secured him the victory.

Besides boosting his chances of qualifying for the semifinals of the tournament, Sock is also the first American player to win a match in the tournament held at the O2 Arena. Not that he cares too much about the milestone.

“I really don’t care about that stuff. I don’t know, the No. 1 American, first American to do this since whenever. I just go out, I like to go out, have fun, compete. The stats and all that are what they are.” He explained.

Sock will play Alexander Zverev in his final group match on Thursday.

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