By Randy Walker
Jack Sock is on a high platform these days.
Not only is he going to compete in Madison Square Garden – the world’s most famous arena – as part of the annual BNP Paribas Showdown Monday night, but Sock now has the platform as being the No. 1 ranked male tennis player in the United States.
Entering Monday night’s event – and the Indian Wells-Miami swing of important U.S. tournaments in the next month – Sock has an incredible 11-1 record for the year and sits at a career-high ranking of No. 18. His only loss this year came at the Australian Open to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round, after starting the year winning in Auckland, New Zealand and also winning in Delray Beach, Florida last month.
During last month’s U.S. Davis Cup victory over Switzerland, Sock first found himself as the No. 1 player on the U.S. team, a position held for much of the last few years by John Isner.
Sock made his Davis Cup debut in 2015 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he won two live singles rubbers to join Cliff Richey as the only U.S. Davis Cup rookies to perform the feat. (Read more about that here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/12683)
He left the Rio Olympics last August as the only tennis player with two medals, winning gold in mixed doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and bronze in men’s doubles with Stevie Johnson.
The big ask for Sock from American tennis fans is if he can become the first American man to win a major singles title since the 2003 U.S. Open, won by Andy Roddick, who is also on Monday’s card at Madison Square Garden. The 15-year drought for American men is the longest span that American men have gone without winning a singles major in the history of the sport. Sock and Roddick share the same birth state, Nebraska (Sock born in Lincoln, Roddick born in Omaha). American tennis fans will have to wait to see if the two can share the title of American Grand Slam tournament champion.
“He’s off to a great start,” said Roddick at Sunday’s BNP Paribas Showdown press conference of Sock. “I think he’s super talented. I think the best is still in front of him.”