When we last saw Jack Sock at the United States Open, a year ago September, he was holding a trophy over his head and — not yet 19 and a newly declared professional — being hailed a Grand Slam champion. Granted, as major titles go, mixed doubles (with Melanie Oudin) was akin to a serving of cheese and crackers, with the steak, or singles title, still lodged in the freezer.
But as Sock had the previous year also won the junior boys title in Flushing Meadows and, with legend holding that he had never lost a high school match, it was natural — at least hopeful — to think he might have a healthy share of winning genes to go with his booming serve.
And his name, for goodness sakes, is Jack Sock; of Lincoln, Neb., a proud Cornhusker. Does it get any more wholesome and hearty for a country in a continuous search for its next men’s star in this athletically enhanced smash-mouth era?
So after Sock introduced himself to Florian Mayer, a German seeded 22nd, with a sizzling ace down the T and held serve to begin a first-round match Monday on the grandstand court, fans responded with a chant of “Let’s Go Sock!”
Forgetting for the moment that New York is a Yankees town, it was better than one alternative — Sock it to him — and completely understandable as Sock was in the process of feeding America’s slam its first helping of nationalistic fervor by overpowering Mayer, who retired while trailing, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2.