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Win & They're In: Zverev & Sock Play For SF Spot

Thursday evening’s match between third-seeded Alexander Zverev and eighth-seeded Jack Sock might be the final clash of Group Boris Becker play, but the stakes cannot be any higher.

The winner moves onto the semi-finals at The O2; the loser's debut at the Nitto ATP Finals comes to an end.

Alexander Zverev takes on Jack Sock in Group Boris Becker's final match, with a spot in the semi-finals on the line.
Roger Federer has clinched the top spot in the group by beating both Zverev and Sock. But since both season finale debutants defeated Marin Cilic to claim 1-1 records, the winner between the two will finish second and earn a spot in the final four in London.

So while Zverev was disappointed to lose a tough three-setter against Federer on Tuesday in which he looked at least the equal of the Swiss for the first two sets, he is not down on himself. How does he feel?

“Good, because I still have a very decent chance of being in the semi-finals,” Zverev said. “It was a pretty positive match. I think we both played pretty well. I feel very confident going into the Sock match.”

The 20-year-old German is not the only one who will take the court with confidence. Sock is still playing with house money after soaring up the Emirates ATP Race To London in its final week, moving from No. 24 into the season finale cut with his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Paris Masters. Much like in Paris, Sock wasn’t sure about the qualification scenarios after his victory against Cilic on Tuesday, but he is not looking ahead to the semi-finals

“There's still a long way to go for that,” Sock said. “I'm just focused on my tennis. I obviously know I have to win...I knew if I did the right things, played some good tennis, I could give myself a chance. That's kind of what I'm here to do.”

And with one clash standing between either Zverev or Sock and the semi-finals, anything can happen. The pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry is knotted at 1-1, with both matches coming last year on hard courts. Sock won a two-hour, 48-minute battle in their only indoor hard court match, which came in Stockholm.

The major difference between the two matches was Sock’s performance on his second serve. The American won just 43 per cent of second-serve points in their first meeting in Beijing last year, before upping that number to 62 per cent in Sweden just weeks later.

But both players have come a long way since then. Each has broken into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with Zverev rising all the way from No. 20 the week of his loss against Sock in Stockholm to where he is now: third in the world. Sock, who was 23rd in the rankings at the time, is now up to ninth.

For the second match in a row, Sock’s lethal topspin forehand will likely end up in rallies against an excellent backhand in Zverev’s two-hander. Court positioning will also be key, as even with a tremendous forehand, it will be tough for Sock to control points if the German is closer to the baseline and the player stepping into his shots, as he tends to be.

Regardless of the outcome, there will be three first-time Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalists for the first time since Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Gilles Simon reached the final four in 2008. But who will earn their shot against the top qualifier from Group Pete Sampras?

Zverev and Sock will decide that in what sets up to be a thriller.

Source: https://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/zverev-sock-preview-nitto-atp-finals-thursday

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