You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Sock ready to finally land Classic trophy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/01/2017 Angelo Risso

American tennis star Jack Sock will have the chance to put last year's Auckland Classic heartbreak behind him by lifting the trophy for the first time.

Sock, 24, will take on Portuguese gun Joao Sousa on Saturday for the largest prize in Kiwi tennis, having defeated compatriot Steve Johnson 6-4 6-3 in Friday's semi-final.

The fourth seed struggled with his first serve despite the calm conditions but caused havoc with those that passed the net, winning 77 per cent of first-serve points.

"Thought I was able to dictate really well with the forehand today, kind of run it through that, come up with a couple breaks which is what I needed," Sock said.

There was little in the match at first, with the two players capably holding serve until Sock broke at 4-4 to successfully serve for the set against an error-prone Johnson.

With momentum on his side, Sock broke quickly in the second set to pull ahead 3-1, before completing the victory with another break at 5-3.

Progress to the final will be especially pleasing for the Nebraskan, who was forced to retire from the 2016 final against Roberto Bautista-Agut with flu.

He told reporters there would be no such repeat in 2017, saying he was in tip-top shape.

"I'm definitely looking forward to feeling healthy out there and giving it my best shot," Sock said.

Yet victory is no certainty in Auckland, with Sock coming up against an opponent who has proven himself capable of knocking off seeded stars.

The 27-year-old Sousa qualified for the final on Friday afternoon with a crushing 6-1 7-5 semi-final victory over Cypriot entertainer and eighth-seed Marcos Baghdatis.

Sock and Sousa have recent history, with the Barcelona-based Sousa emerging triumphant on the clay courts of Madrid last year.

Despite also considering himself a clay-courter, the world No.23 Sock said playing on Auckland's hard courts may give him a slight edge.

"Against an opponent like that, hard might suit me a little better, he's very comfortable on clay and can make a lot of balls, retreats, plays defence really well," Sock said.

"I'll have to be solid and play my game and dictate with my weapons."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon