Is Jack Sock the Best Tennis Player on Tour?
Before you ask, no, Im not Jack Socks mum, and yes, I am serious. In an age where you have 3 players breaking almost every record between them, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, it can be very difficult to get international acclaim and be considered as one of the best. Now before I give my reasoning, let me explain a bit about professional doubles. It is a complex, quick, tactical game of tennis. Many players dabble in doubles at some point in their career, generally early on, when they’ve first turned pro. For many, the reason is mainly financial, along with training and a bit of fun. If you’ve entered a tournament, traveled there, brought your team, prepared, trained, and then go out first round, thats a lot of cost with very little gain. If you enter the doubles event as well however, you can get an extra bit of money, as well as an opportunity to work on your game in a different environment. Once you start getting your ranking up, you generally stop doubles, just to focus on your singles game.
So Jack Sock, best player ever? The reason behind this is simple. Jack Sock is currently ranked 17th in the world for singles, but he is also ranked 4th in the world for doubles. That is no easy task to maintain such a high level on both the singles and doubles tour. His career high is actually 8th in singles, which he achieved late last year, and 2nd in doubles, which he achieved just last month. In the last two years, Jack Socks combined singles and doubles ranking has never gone over 51. So not only is he getting a high ranking in both tours, but he is maintaining both. Along with this, he is winning titles. He has won 4 grand slam titles, an Olympic gold medal, and 4 ATP Masters titles.
So he’s good at doubles and singles, they’re both tennis. You should be able to do both, right? Well yes to some degree. However they are very different games. Jamie Murray said after his US Open victory ‘It’s a totally different skill set to singles.’ Last month at the Laver Cup in Chicago, Jack Sock, partnered by Kevin Anderson defeated Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who have 34 grand slam titles between them. There is a reason why players don’t play doubles and singles at the same time. Not only do you require different abilities, but to manage playing both at the same time is very challenging. At this years Wimbledon Jack Sock played a 5 set singles match on Tuesday, 2 doubles matches on the Thursday, a 4 set doubles match on the Friday, and then another one the next day. In a 13 day tournament, he played 10 matches over 9 days.
Back in the day, John McEnroe achieved a number 1 ranking in both singles and doubles. On Jack Sack, McEnroe said ‘He represents the next generation, with a big personality on court, and the ability to win any match he plays.’ He went on to say that ‘He is a dangerous player to face in singles or doubles.’ Jack Sock may not be the best singles or doubles player on tour, however his ability to play on two tours at the same time is impressive, and shows that he is adapt at playing either game of tennis, which is what makes him one of the best all round tennis players on tour. It is important to remember that he is only 26. In the singles top 20, there are only 7 players younger than him, and in the doubles top 20, there is only 1. With a few more years of experience, he could certainly compete for the number 1 rank for both tours, a feat only ever completed by 2 players on the ATP tour.