Two of the game’s talented 20-somethings meet in Miami today with a spot in the fourth round on the line. Milos Raonic has owned this series with six wins in seven matches against the Jack Sock.
(12) Milos Raonic vs (22) Jack Sock
Raonic was a tad shaky in his opener against Denis Kudla. The Canadian was forced to save six break points, but managed to save all of them. In part, that allowed him to edge Kudla 7-6 (4), 6-4. Raonic won 55 of 76 service points in the match. It was Raonic’s first match since the Indian Wells final, where he looked to be suffering again from the abductor injury that took him off the tour after the Australian Open.
Sock got his Miami journey off to a solid start, as he took advantage of one of the many retirements so far to defeat Sergiy Stakhovsky. Sock was leading 6-2, 3-2, when the Ukrainian threw in the towel. Sock’s first serve was on-point during the abbreviated match as he won 21 of 23 points. The American will be seeking to get past the third round for the first time. Last year, he lost in this same round to Dominic Thiem.
Sock is aware of the challenge he faces today, whether Raonic is 100 percent or not. Sock said Raonic will be a bit different then when they last met in 2014, “He’s an established top-15, sometimes top-10 player. I think everyone knows he has a massive serve, likes to come forward and is a lot more aggressive these days than he used to be. I’ll have to play my best to beat him.”
To date, Sock’s best has not been good enough more times than not against the Canadian. Raonic owns six victories in seven career matches between the two. It’s not to say that they have not been competitive, with Sock winning a set off Raonic in five of the seven meetings. One of the main issues for Sock has been getting the better of the 12th seed in tiebreaks. Of the six they have played, Raonic has won all of them. They have all been fairly decisive as well with Raonic never losing more than four points in the breakers.
Tiebreaks have continued to be problematic for Sock this year. He is 1-3 on the season and just 35-36 during his career in tiebreaks. Raonic meanwhile has become accustomed to playing in those tight moments and winning. He is 6-1 in tiebreaks in 2016 and 141-88 for his career.
This match will see it’s expected power play from both sides. Big serving and big forehands will be the name of the game. Sock will prefer the baseline rallies. Raonic will still look for the opportunity to come to the net, a facet of his game that has really propelled his game to a new level this season. The problem for Sock against Raonic so far, has been his inability to win those tight sets. The tiebreak disparity could be massive in a match that figures to be close if both players are playing well. That should give the ultimate edge to Raonic as long as he isn’t compromised physically.
Raonic wins in straight sets