Sock Enjoys Practice With Federer
by Matt Fitzgerald|
It’s not every day an up and coming player gets to hit with 16 time grand slam champion Roger Federer. Unless you’re Jack Sock.
The 18 year old American enjoyed a friendly but productive practice session with the Swiss superstar on Stadium Court this afternoon. The Lincoln, Neb. native has hit with Federer before and never takes it for granted.“I take in every minute. He’s such a great player and I always try and hit well. You want to perform your best in front of someone like him.”
In between the hitting and grinding, the two shared brief conversations. Sock described Federer as a generous person, eager to learn about his tennis upbringing. “He’s incredibly humble”, said Sock. “Most of our conversations have been tennis-oriented, focusing on my training and history. He’s always interested in finding out more about me.”
Sock is making his first appearance in the main draw of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event; he played in the qualifying rounds here last year but did not advance. He’s appreciative of the opportunity to showcase his game at a tournament like Miami early in his professional career.
“I have to thank IMG. This will be a great experience for me.”
In the first round, he faces Carlos Berlocq of Argentina. Berlocq comes into the Sony Ericsson Open with a career-high ranking of 71. Interestingly, Berlocq has played three main-draw matches over the course of his career in Miami, all against Americans, holding a 1-2 record. It’s an excellent chance for Sock to test himself against a Top 100 player and he’s looking forward to the challenge. “I want to play my best tennis and get a win. It would be a great way to debut my game here in Miami.”
Although he portrayed Federer as having a humble quality, the same can be said for Sock. He won the USTA Boys’ 18s Nationals to earn a wild card into his first senior grand slam event last year and went on to win the US Open Junior Singles title. Despite his success in 2010, Sock believes he has a lot of training ahead to successfully transition from the junior ranks to the pros.
“A lot of off-court work needs to be done,” admitted Sock. “Of course my on-court game needs polishing but I need to get in better shape, improve my fitness so I’m prepared for the long five-set matches against higher ranked players.”
A player who heavily favors the forehand side, Sock sees himself playing a similar game style to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. “Nadal prefers the forehand to the backhand and hits with incredible spin. I also like to hit with more spin than pace and prefer my forehand.”
While Sock is focused on playing well in his opening match, he still takes the time to follow other sports. Like many players entered here in Miami, he’s into March Madness, competing in multiple pools (NCAA basketball for non-American fans who don’t know). Those in his home state might be surprised he picked Duke to top Kansas but he clarified it wasn’t personal. “I live in Kansas now but I’ve always been a Nebraska Cornhusker fan!”
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