In a surprise final 16th seeded American Jack Sock takes on qualifier Filip Krajinovic. Sock has had a mixed year so far, beginning brightly but suffering some extended periods of poor form. Despite that, if he can defeat the Serbian Krajinovic he will qualify for the season-ending championships in London. As for Krajinovic, he is looking to pick up his first Tour-level title and is the lowest-ranked player to contest a Masters 1000 final since world #191 Andrei Pavel in Bercy 14 years ago. But who will come out on top?
With Krajinovic having spent most of his career on the Futures and Challenger circuits he and Sock are yet to meet in a Tour-level match. But the two have played once before, in the semifinals of the Challenger in Savannah Georgia. Victory was Sock’s that day as he rallied from losing the first set to reach the final where he lost to Nick Kyrgios. Sock also has the advantage in experience. Whilst Krajinovic is competing in his first ever Tour final, Sock has three titles to his name including two this year. Moreover, whilst Krajinovic has just 21 Tour-level victories, Sock has 146. But Krajinovic’s lack of experience hasn’t held him back yet this week.
Path to the final
Jack Sock began his Paris campaign with a hard fought win over Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the first round. Edmund took the first set 6-4 and looked to be in a good position. But he was twice unable to see out the match in a tiebreak as Sock came through 4-6 7-6 7-6. He backed that up with a victory over French #2 Lucas Pouille who he dispatched in straight sets 7-6 6-3. Sock again dropped the first set in his quarterfinal with Verdasco winning the opener in a tiebreak. But after that it was all Sock as the American rebounded to win 6-7 6-2 6-3.
That win put Sock into the last four where he faced Julien Benneteau. The French veteran, who was playing his last tournament in Bercy, had stunned the crowds all week to reach the semifinals, much to their delight. But against Sock he ran out of energy despite a valiant effort. A break late in the first set sealed it for the American, and he powered into his first Masters final, wrapping up the second set 6-2.
Krajinovic had to come through the qualifying to reach the main draw in Paris. It was a test he passed impressively, defeating Guido Pella and countryman Laslo Djere to reach the main draw. He began there with a straight sets victory against Yuichi Sugita of Japan before upsetting Sam Querrey in the second round. That ended the American’s hopes of making it to the O2. He then came through a three set battle with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the third round. It was a strange match with several swings in momentum but eventually it was Krajinovic who prevailed 6-2 3-6 6-1.
In the quarterfinals he was supposed to face world #1 Rafael Nadal which would have surely provided a monumental challenge. But the Spaniard was forced to withdraw with a knee injury which put Krajinovic into the semifinals. Awaiting him was giant American John Isner. Isner had London hopes of his own, but encountered a resolute Krajinovic. A break midway through the first set was enough for the Serb to seal the opener. Isner levelled the match in a second set tiebreak, and looked to have the momentum. He was unable to break Krajinovic in the decider but took an early lead in the tiebreak. But two magnificent returns from Krajinovic turned it around and astonishingly sent him into the final.
How do they match up?
Sock is one of the more powerful players on Tour, particularly off the forehand and serve. His forehand is hit with enough revolutions per minute to rival the great Rafael Nadal. He is also a fine volleyer, having won the Wimbledon doubles trophy with Vasek Pospisil along with several other high profile titles. They key for him will be to play aggressively from the outset against Krajinovic. The Serbian is blessed with little of Sock’s power, but showed against Isner that his energy and effort make him a danger to anyone. His consistency from the back of the court also make him hard to break down. A shot he was able to use to great effect against Isner was the backhand down the line and if he can find it again against Sock it could be similarly useful.
Krajinovic has been shocking the tennis world all week, but it’s hard not to back Sock in this one. His power and experience should be too much for the Serbian, who may well be overawed by the conditions. That said, he coped admirably against Isner. But surely, at some point, reality must kick in. Sock in straight sets.
Who do you think will win the title? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?