Sock and Muller Claim Rare ATP Titles in Run Up to Melbourne
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Jack Sock rose to a career high top 20 ranking with his second career ATP title. The 24 year old American continued his red hot start to the 2017 season by claiming the championship in Auckland, where he reached the final last year. Sock’s win over Joao Sousa was a thrilling contest ending 6-3 5-7 6-3. Sock went up a set thanks to great returning and looked set to win in straights, but Sousa fought back for a late break with some tremendous shotmaking. Sousa would then go up a break in the third, but he surrendered two further breaks in the third set to hand Sock the hard fought trophy.
Sousa beat Albert Ramos, Brydan Klein, Robin Haase, and Marcos Baghdatis to reach his eight career ATP final, dropping to a 2-6 career record in those finals.
Sock moved to a 2-5 career ATP final record thanks to wins over Ryan Harrison, Jeremy Chardy, and Steve Johnson. Three of his four match wins this week came in three sets, as the Auckland crowd certainly enjoyed watching him battle.
Marcin Matkowski and Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi defeated Jonathan Erlich and Scott Lipsky in the doubles final.
Gilles Muller won his first ever ATP title at 33 years of age with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Britain’s Daniel Evans. Muller started the Sydney tournament as one of the best players to never win a title, and ended it as a very happy ATP champion. Muller was 0-5 in previous ATP finals, but Evans, playing in his first ever ATP title at age 26, wasn’t up to the task of dismantling his effective serves.
Muller dropped sets against Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Matthew Barton before going on to defeat Pablo Cuevas, and Viktor Troicki in straight sets. Evans had three set contests all week, defeating Thiago Monteiro, Marcel Granollers, Dominic Thiem, and Andrey Kuznetsov. His one hand backhand continues to improve and he appears set to secure his place on the ATP stage in 2017. His win over Thiem was one of the best of his career, as he outlasted the Austrian late in the match.
Dutch pairing Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop defeated Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the doubles final.