Jack Sock came through qualifying to end a four-year absence from the Wimbledon main draw - having narrowly missed out on a wildcard less than a week ago, writes Oli Dickson Jefford at Wimbledon Qualifying.
A former world no.8 and four-time ATP title winner in his prime, Sock effectively dropped off the ATP rankings at the end of 2019 after requiring surgery on torn ligaments in his left thumb.
With the 2020 Championships cancelled amid the pandemic and his ranking not high enough last summer, this year’s qualifying event offered him the chance to play at the All England Club for the first time since 2018.
Sock came in on a rich vein of form having reached the final of the LTA’s Ilkley Trophy, though that was a bittersweet experience for the world No.102.
If he had converted a match point and beaten Zizou Bergs - who prevailed in a final set tiebreak - it would have likely been him, not the Belgian, who was handed one of the last Wimbledon wildcards.
Physically the 29-year-old was unsure how he would manage after his Ilkley venture, but mentally he thinks it may prove to be an advantage.
“If you’d have told me that on Sunday night after I lost at Ilkley with match point for a wildcard - to have this week off - I would’ve said it might be a bit of a stretch,” said Sock, who beat Hugo Grenier in straight sets to seal his main draw spot.
“I’d played a lot of tennis, a lot of three-setters last week so I was excited to hopefully have a week off, but to do it this as well obviously feels amazing.
“I got more time on the grass, and I feel good about my game. Obviously I’m going to have some momentum going into next week, so I’m excited.
“I’m not a young buck anymore. The week off with training would’ve been nice physically but mentally I have a lot of confidence going into next week now.”
In terms of singles SW19 hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for the American, with one third round appearance in 2016 his best showing.
However, having twice won the Men’s doubles - with Vasek Pospisil in 2014 and Mike Bryan in 2018 - he is hoping to find his feet on the grass at Wimbledon.
Sock commented: “Obviously with Vasek, in our first time playing together, to win the tournament was pretty insane.
“Playing with half of the GOAT team with Mike Bryan, to be able to share the court with him, to go on that run was incredible, and we finished it off with the year-end Championships in London.
“I love this city, I love the UK in general. I feel like I have some great fans here, some great memories in this city in general.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully sticking around for a few more weeks.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website