Jack Sock has had an easy run in the Miami Open so far but his quarter final match would be anything but easy. After having a comfortable 6-2, 6-1 win over compatriot Jared Donaldson, Jack Sock now faces Rafael Nadal in the Quarter Finals.
Sock is the last American remaining in the tournament and all the hopes of the nation are on him. No American since Andy Roddick has won at Key Biscayne and Jack is trying his hardest to recreate the moment for his countrymen. His current obstacle is the big shot of the game, Rafael Nadal, who has also never won a title here and is as determined as ever to clench it. He has reached the finals of the event 4 times but is yet to convert it into a victory.
Rafael Nadal v Jack Sock: Battle of the clay maestros
Both have their vices and both have their strengths. Sock is regarded as an aggressive baseliner and, sometimes, so is Nadal. But he is often described as an aggressive counter-puncher. Their playing style is quite similar as both prefer the forehand to the backhand and like to have a high spin rate as compared to pace in their shots. Also, their court covering matches with that of the other.
The only difference that they have is that while Sock has a very powerful serve, Nadal’s serve is an area that needs some improvement, which he has displayed in the tournament so far. Although, he has lost only 12 points on his serve as compared to Sock’s 15 in their respective 3rd round matches. Sock’s serve has been a matter of concern for Nadal in both of the matches that they have played but he has always managed to find a solution to that.
“I think we (Nadal and me) are both comfortable on clay or hard,” Sock said after dispatching Donaldson in just over an hour. “I’ll definitely give myself a lot more chance to win this time around than maybe I did a few years ago. I’m 24 years old now and been on tour for a while. I’m playing these matches and hoping I can win and going in believing I can win, for sure.” He also added, “Our games are pretty similar and hence, it will be a tough encounter to get past him.”
Nadal agreed to the fact that Sock was a potent opponent to have on clay and that he needed to be at his aggressive best to get the better of him,
“He’s a very aggressive player. Very powerful player, big serve, big forehand and a good backhand, too. He plays quick with his backhand. So, I need to play aggressive. That’s the only way. If I let him play a comfortable position, it’s going to be impossible for me.”
Sock has been successful in troubling Nadal in the 2 matches that they have had but hasn’t been able to oust him. As their playing styles are quite similar, they know each other’s game too well to be exploit the gaps, if any. Despite the huge similarities, it has been Nadal who has triumphed over Sock in the past. It is because of the experience that he has gained by being on the tour for about a decade more than Sock has always helped him have an edge against the American.
In the first Masters of the season, Indian Wells, Nadal got ousted in the quarter-finals whereas Sock got eliminated in the semi-finals, both by the same opponent, Roger Federer. And now they meet in the quarter finals to take one more step towards the first title that either of them might win here.
The odds are a little bendy towards Nadal but you can never put Sock off the cards, especially when he’s playing in front of his home crowd, having all their support.
Jack Sock and Rafael Nadal have met on two occasions, and both the times, Sock was able to take a set off Nadal but never more. Can he finally snatch more than a set from Nadal? Or will Nadal be able to stop Sock as he has done twice in the past? Will Jack Sock overcome the obstacle, Rafael Nadal, and be a step closer to winning at the Key Biscayne or will he succumb to the prowess of Rafa once again? A humdinger is on the cards.