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Sock vs Gulbis ATP Stockholm live streaming, preview and tips - Can Sock win consecutive matches for the first time this season?

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 19 Oct 2018
  • Jack Sock vs Ernests Gulbis is live from Stockholm around 6.30pm local time on Friday (5.30pm BST)
  • Sock won their only previous clash at Wimbledon in 2016
Jack Sock (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images)

Jack Sock attempts to win back-to-back matches for the first time this season when he takes on former top 10 player Ernests Gulbis in the Intrum Stockholm Open quarter-finals on Friday night.

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Trying to salvage what has simply been an atrocious year in singles, World No. 18 Jack Sock targets his first semi-final of the season on Friday in Stockholm against the enigmatic Ernests Gulbis - a player that also knows a thing or too about drastic dips in form.

As far as slumps go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player that has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows than Sock. At the end of 2017 the American was on top of the world, capturing his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Paris (without defeating a top 15 player mind you) and securing a spot at the coveted season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London as a result, where he went on to beat No. 3 Alexander Zverev and No. 5 Marin Cilic before going down to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals. Those two results saw Sock accumulate a total of 1,400 ranking points and propelled him into the top 10 for the first time in his career to No. 8 in the world.

Sock had also won two ATP World Tour titles in Auckland and Delray Beach at the start of the season, along with reaching the Indian Wells Masters semi-finals and Miami quarter-finals, and with his big end to 2017, many were predicting the American to climb even higher in 2018 - but, unfortunately for Sock, that hasn’t come anywhere close to eventuating. Indeed, Sock has only won seven matches in total all year and is yet to win back-to-back matches at any tournament. To put his slump into perspective, if you were to take off the 1,400 points he amassed for winning Paris and making the ATP Finals semi-finals last year (and they will come off shortly), Sock would have a current ranking of No. 130 - which is barely good enough to land him a seeding in Australian Open qualifying.

And it’s not as if Sock’s been losing to quality players either, with some of his worst defeats including No. 316 Daniel Brands (Eastbourne qualifying), No. 228 Reilly Opelka (Delray Beach R2), No. 123 Ernesto Escobedo (Acapulco R1), No. 176 Jurgen Zopp (French Open R1) and No. 81 Matteo Berrettini (Wimbledon R1).

Not even Sock’s prowess on the doubles court has been able to boost his confidence inside the singles arena, with the 26-year-old winning the Wimbledon and U.S. Open doubles titles with Mike Bryan. However, with all that being said, surely Sock has to turn things around at some point? I mean, no matter how soft his run in Paris was, you don’t win a Masters 1000 title if you’re not a serious talent. And Sock has had success in Stockholm before, finishing runner-up in 2015 and 2016 to Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro respectively, while he grabbed just his seventh win of 2018 earlier this week with a 7-5 3-6 6-3 victory over Elias Ymer. Can the American secure consecutive wins for the first time this year on Friday?

Ernests Gulbis (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Not if Ernests Gulbis has anything to do with it. A former World No. 10 and French Open semi-finalist, along with winning six ATP World Tour titles and claiming 18 top 10 scalps throughout his career - including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro - Gulbis always had the talent to be a top 10 mainstay himself and challenge for Grand Slam prizes, but his lack of dedication to the sport in his earlier years and some injury issues later in his career have held him back from really fulfilling that potential.


Gulbis broke through as a teenager to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open in 2008 and would go on to shoot up and down the rankings as he failed to put together any sort of consistent run - although he did pick up six titles between 2010 and 2014, including two indoors, which is the same conditions as this week in Stockholm. Gulbis reached his career-high ranking of No. 10 after beating Federer and Tomas Berdych to make the Roland Garros semi-finals in 2014, but he’s struggled with injuries ever since and has only played nine matches at ATP level in 2018.

But the Latvian has always been one to the rise in big moments, and he certainly did that at Wimbledon earlier this year, qualifying for the main draw and advancing to the Round of 16, beating Alexander Zverev along the way before going down to Kei Nishikori in four sets. Gulbis went back into the wilderness after that event and didn’t win a tour-level match until this week, but he’s once again showing what he’s capable of when he’s focused and firing, qualifying for the main draw and reaching the quarter-finals without dropping a set, including a brilliant 6-2 6-4 dispatch of rising star Denis Shapovalov in the second round on Thursday night.

Sock won’t their only previous meeting in the first round of Wimbledon in 2016, but you can’t take anything from that match when predicting this one. Gulbis, for me, is the far better player when both are playing their best, but Sock is still light years away from that level, while the Latvian has an easier time of finding his top form when he’s in this frame of mind. Sock’s backhand remains a big weakness and one win over Ymer doesn’t convince me he’s on his way back. I expect Gulbis to register another clinical win as he edges closer to challenging for the Stockholm title.


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Sock vs Gulbis ATP Stockholm live streaming, preview and tips - Can Sock win consecutive matches for the first time this season?

Jack Sock attempts to win back-to-back matches for the first time this season when he takes on former top 10 player Ernests Gulbis in the Intrum Stockholm Open quarter-finals on Friday night.

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