Experience prevailed over youthful exuberance in a second-round singles match at the U.S. Open on Friday as former Open champion Andy Roddick turned back aspiring newcomer Jack Sock in a pairing of fellow Nebraskans on Center Court in Arthur Ashe Stadium, one of the classic venues in professional tennis.
The 29-year-old Roddick, a former No, 1 player in the world, took the best Sock had to give and slowly and methodically seized control of the match in winning in straight sets over the former Blue Valley North tennis sensation, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Sock, 11 years Roddick's junior, started off strong, including two serving aces in the opening game. Roddick was able to hold off his energized opponent, however, and force Sock into mistakes in key situations.
Sock ended the match with 38 unforced errors, and Roddick converted when he had to, winning five of five break points.
"I've been that kid out there at 18 years old, playing way too fast," Roddick said afterwards.
"Three years ago, four years ago, I started hearing about this kid from Nebraska," he said. "He was gangly, hit the ball hard...It all sounded too familiar."
Despite the loss, the Kansas City youth viewed the experience as an important step and a terrific learning opportunity in what is sure to be an accomplished career in the world of professional tennis. ""Obviously, it's one of the biggest stages in tennis, if not the biggest," Sock said. "So I went out there, and I soaked up all the experience I could and learned a lot from it."
Sock stood strong against a formidable opponent and outplayed the more experienced and proven Roddick at numerous points in the match. Sock hit 42 winning shots, 15 more than Roddick.
"He (Roddick) was the guy to watch for guys my age growing up," Sock said. "He was the up-and-comer, doing really well on the tour. I watched him a lot. To be able to play him was the best tennis experience of my life."
Roddick was impressed enough with Sock's on-court performance and perseverance that he extended an invitation to the Blue Valley North grad to visit him and practice together in the offseason at Roddick;s home in Austin, Texas. You can bet that's one invitation that the young Sock won't turn down.