Fairytale Showdown: Sock & Krajinovic Compete For Paris Title
Jack Sock and Filip Krajinovic have written their own fairytales at the Rolex Paris Masters. But only one can complete their dream run in Sunday's final, the last ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match of the season.
The American right-hander entered the event at No. 24 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with little hope of qualifying for his first Nitto ATP Finals. In the second round, which was Sock's opener, he found himself down 1-5 in the third set against Kyle Edmund before rallying to advance. Now, he is into his first Masters 1000 final.
"To be completely honest, I had no idea I could still make London even if I was to win the tournament. I didn't know if I was going to be even close. I had a good start to the year and a very bad middle and towards the end of the year. To be able to regroup and get that confidence back and play some of the tennis I've been able to play in the last few matches is big for me," Sock said after his semi-final win against home favourite Julien Benneteau. "I should have been out first round here, in my first match, so I'm kind of just playing with house money now as you'd say. And just enjoying it."
If Sock triumphs on Sunday, he will soar up the Race standings to earn the eighth berth in the year-end finale. If Krajinovic finishes off his dream week, Pablo Carreno Busta will qualify for London. The last time a player qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals by needing to win the Paris title was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008 (d. Nalbandian).
Krajinovic has had his own magical run in Paris. The Serbian started his week in qualifying, having won just one tour-level match all season. But that turned around quickly, as he beat two of the Top 10 seeds (No. 9 Isner and No. 10 Querrey) to reach his first ATP World Tour final. He can become the eighth first-time champion this season.
"The emotions are amazing. It was a tough mental match...when I served for the match, my hand was shaking. It was tough to control the emotions, but I knew I have to stay aggressive all the way to the end. I did it, and it's the best day in my life," Krajinovic said. "But the tournament is not over yet. I'll prepare for tomorrow."
The matchup between Sock and Krajinovic, who are both 25, is the second Masters 1000 final this season featuring two players born in the 1990s. At the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Grigor Dimitrov (26) beat Nick Kyrgios (22). The last time two players debuting in a Masters 1000 final played each other in Paris was in 2012, when David Ferrer beat qualifier Jerzy Janowicz for his first Masters 1000 title.
This will be the first meeting on the ATP World Tour between the two, although Sock won 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-finals of a 2014 ATP Challenger Tour event in Savannah, Georgia (l. to Kyrgios in final).
+ Capture his first Masters 1000 title
+ Become the first American to win an ATP Masters 1000 title since fellow Nebraska native Andy Roddick seven years ago in Miami
+ Win a personal-best three ATP World Tour singles titles in a season (Paris would be his first singles title in Europe and his first indoor trophy)
+ Break into the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 9 (improving his year-end ranking for a seventh-straight year)
+ Finish as the No. 1 American for the first time in his career
Krajinovic is appearing in his first ATP World Tour final and if he defeats Sock, he will:
+ Become the first qualifier to win a Masters 1000 title since Albert Portas won in Hamburg in 2001 (Portas was also the last player to win his maiden ATP World Tour title at a Masters 1000 event)
+ Become the first qualifier to win the Rolex Paris Masters in tournament history (since 1986)
+ Post wins over the Top 3 Americans in Paris: Querrey (2R), Isner (SF) and Sock (F)
+ Will jump from No. 77 to a career-high No. 25 in the Emirates ATP Rankings (No. 33 with a loss in the final)
+ Will become the lowest-ranked Masters 1000 champion since Hamburg in 1996 when No. 143 Roberto Carretero beat Alex Correjta to win the title. The last Masters 1000 champion outside Top 50 was No. 57 Chris Woodruff 20 years ago in Montreal (d. Kuerten)
+ Will join Novak Djokovic (30) as only Serbians to win a Masters 1000 singles title
+ Will earn €853,430 ($990,610 USD), more than doubling his career prize money ($860,429) coming into Paris