Paris: Jack Sock became the youngest American man to reach the French Open Last 16 since Pete Sampras 22 years ago, with a spirit fired by a pair of frightening family health scares. At the start of the year, Sock, the World No 37, was at the bedside of his brother Eric who had been diagnosed with Lemierre’s Syndrome.
Jack Sock celebrates his win over Borna Coric. PIC: AP/PTI
The rare disease, caused when an infection from a sore throat builds in the lungs, could have been fatal. When Sock started his season at Indian Wells in March, he took to the court with the words “For you, Eric” penned into his tennis shoes. Older brother Eric, an ex-university player in Nebraska, spent the best part of two weeks in intensive care with Jack at his bedside.
“When I was in the hospital next to the bed with my brother, it was a very tough time for not only myself but my family,” recalled Jack on Saturday after a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win against Boran Coric put him into the Last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time. “It was motivation. He got through that, and it’s pushing me out on the court, teaching me things that maybe I didn’t know in the past.
For you, grandpa
“He’s able to get through that, makes the things on the court that I would maybe usually get frustrated with that don’t seem as big anymore. It helps me play a little bit more relaxed tennis.” In Paris, Sock is now sporting another message of support on his footwear. This time it’s “4uGPa” in honour of his grandfather who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Immediately after his win over Coric, he called the centre in Atlanta who are caring for his granddad. “My aunt and grandmother are with him and they put the phone up to his ear so I could say some words and hopefully could hear me,” said Sock.