ATP Shanghai: Jack Sock saves match points to deny Milos Raonic

American Jack Sock broke an eight-match losing skid to fifth seed Milos Raonic in the third round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, overcoming a nightmare start and saving two match points in the third set tiebreak to edge the big-serving Canadian 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(8). It was Raonic who was in control early, but mistakes start to creep into his game which allowed Sock back into the match. In the end, his inability to take his chances late cost Raonic, as Sock held his nerve to take the deciding set tiebreak and earn a spot in the quarterfinals, somewhere has still yet to reach in Shanghai.

Raonic races through opener

Matches between Raonic and Sock have often been serving battles with few breaks between them, so when Raonic opened with a hold to love and broke on this break point in the second game, it seemed as though Sock was in for a bad day. The American did not fold after surrendering the early break. He had a break point of his own but could not convert in the third game.

Milos Raonic lunges for a backhand during his second round match. Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images
Milos Raonic lunges for a backhand during his second round match. Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images

That would prove to be Sock’s best chance to get back in the set, as Raonic raced ahead 0-40 on the American’s serve in the following game and converted his second to grab the break on his second chance to stretch the lead to 4-0. The fifth seed held to put the pressure on Sock to serve to stay in the set and he couldn’t do it, being broken for a third time to drop the set in a mere 24 minutes.

One mistake costs Raonic

Sock re-found his footing at the start of the second set, stopping the bleeding with a hold to 30 in his first game of the second set. The first four games of the set were not very dramatic, as each man held with ease. The crucial game would prove to be the fifth, as Sock raced ahead 0-30 on Raonic’s serve. The Canadian would level, but Sock kept pressing and reached break point for the first time in the match. At the worst possible moment, Raonic hit one of his seven double faults to gift the break to Sock. That one break was all Sock would need, as he never allowed Raonic a single break point in the entire set, hanging on to take it 6-4 and send the match to a decider.

Sock holds nerve in wild tiebreak

Both men were settled into their service rhythms in the third set. Through 12 games, neither man managed to reach break point or so much as pushed their opponent to deuce in return games. In fact, only once in the set did the returner lead at 30, with Raonic holding a 15-30 lead in the tenth game, only for Sock to win three unanswered points. Just like six of their last seven meetings, at least one set would need a tiebreak, this time with it deciding the match.

Jack Sock hits a backhand yesterday in Shanghai. Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images
Jack Sock hits a backhand yesterday in Shanghai. Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images

In the breaker, Sock dropped the minibreak on his first service point, only to reclaim it to level at 2-2. After Raonic retook a minibreak lead at 4-3, he lost both his service points to give Sock a chance to serve out the match at 5-4. This time, it was the American blowing the lead, giving the minibreak right back. Sock held the first match point at 5-6, but Raonic one both his service points to hold a match point of his own at 7-6. Sock saved it, Raonic stole the minibreak for a second match point at 8-7, this time on his serve. He could not convert and Sock turned the tables, winning both of Raonic’s service points for a 9-8 and he took advantage, taking the tiebreak 10-8 to seal the upset.

By the Numbers

Raonic pounded 14 aces to his opponent's three, but also had seven double faults to Sock’s three. The unevenness on Raonic’s serve continued, as he won 80 percent of his first serve points, but only 47 percent of his second serves. Sock was more consistent, winning 62 percent of his first serve points and 66 percent of his second serves. Sock saved three of six break points, all of them in the first set, while Raonic saved one of two.

Sock goes on to play the winner between Stan Wawrinka and Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals.