Watching Jack Sock is almost like watching former world #1 Marcelo Rios, so much promise and talent but little fortitude or desire, and the same could be said of his girlfriend Sloane Stephens. Both Stephens and Sock are coming off first round losses, Stephens in Dubai and Sock in Delray Beach. When watching Sock and Stephens play, there's this sense of disappointment that swoons upon your entire state of mind. There never seems to be a sense of urgency when they're on court, not even when losing.
With Sock, the problem is fitness and grit; you almost get the sense that for Sock, winning the opening set is always of the upmost importance but you don't feel the urgency when he's playing; he feeling that I know I have to win this set no matter what happens. And then, when in trouble from losing the first set, there's no grit or desire (or even determination) to dig deep and push to make the match all out war, to fight tooth and nail and prevail even after losing the first set. Sock came into the Delray Beach Open in the best shape of his career, but after he lost the first set it was almost like he was a zombie out there. There was little effort and the match was over in the blink of an eye, it was pretty depressing.
With Stephens,the problem strictly on the mental side; she seems to go walkabout not only during matches but during tournaments. Last year she went on a string of first round exits after her breakthrough in Australian, that's just unacceptable for someone of her talents. Here's someone who has all the tools to not only challenge the top players at the majors but to win majors. She, as with Sock, have massive serves and forehands; there's just no reason to be losing first rounds at lower ranked tournaments to opponents that are beatable. At least, to Stephens credit, she had a tough first round opponent and she put up quite a fight, but Sock lost to someone very beatable and looked to have thrown in the towel in the second set.
You know, there's this sort of dark cloud floating over the heads of Sock and Stephens, that all you need do is just hang around, sort of chip away at the armor until it finally caves in. My thing is, even if there's this dark cloud, it doesn't mean you have to give in or coincide with it; go against the grain and flex your muscle. To be honest, all it takes is for one match or one tournament to get the word out that things are different, that no matter what you will be fighting hard for each and every point, that no matter what you'll be focused each and every shot. Because a first round loss in Delray Beach and in Dubai is literally just depressing nor is it worthy of who they are.
Can Jack Sock win a major? It's certainly possible; it won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination, and obviously it will be extremely tough with the likes of Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, and Federer around, but it's definitely possible because they can't win them all. Can Sloane Stephens win a major? Of course she can; there's not a doubt. If my mind that she'll win a major in the near future, but all that zoning out she does Weill have to stop. With those serves and forehands, there's no reason the Stephens and Sock can be world class players, but they can ill afford this depressing first round losses.