Tennis

Sock continues recent hot streak

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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla.

For Jack Sock, one of America’s tennis hopes for the future, life just seems to get better with every passing day.

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A quarterfinalist at Memphis last week after scoring the biggest win of his career over Canada’s Milos Raonic, Sock blasted his way into the second round of the Delray Beach International with a 6-3, 6-3 victory Tuesday over Australia’s Matthew Ebden.

“It’s a crazy lifestyle, but we’re very lucky to have it,” the strapping 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., said. “Planes, hotel rooms every week; it’s certainly different. But if you’re winning, you’re having a blast. Your priorities change a bit. One of the things I look for checking in to a hotel is how close the laundry machine is. You get through a lot of laundry!”

It was certainly a sweaty, humid day at Delray Beach, with strong winds coming in off the Atlantic Ocean, but Sock did not allow that to bother him.

“I came in here with a lot of confidence and momentum after Memphis,” he said. “I knew I was serving well. And when I broke him in the opening game, everything became easier.”

Sock had to call the trainer for an arm problem in the second set, but, after missing a few shots when play resumed, he soon was hitting winners again off his powerful forehand. Ebden, who had beaten him last year in ATP Challenger Tour matches at Dallas and Aptos, Calif., never looked like getting into the match.

James Blake, who lost 6-1, 6-4 in the first round to Ernests Gulbis, the Latvian who won the title here in 2010 but had to qualify for the main draw this time, was full of praise for Sock’s game.

“He has a big game and can only get better by playing matches, win or lose,” Blake said. “Obviously, he has a huge serve, but 90 percent of the young guys have big serves today. Jack also has this big forehand, and he uses it well to protect his backhand, a little like Carlos Moya used to do.”

Blake was circumspect about his own game.

“I’m not fooling myself into thinking I am going to best my No. 4 ranking,” he said. “But I still have motivation to work hard and get out there because I think I can still win matches. I just want to see how well I can do.”

It was not a happy day for another young American. Ryan Harrison lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 to Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, a Spaniard he beat in three sets on clay in French Open qualifying in 2011. Blake was sympathetic.

“He’s going through a confidence slump right now,” Blake said. “It happens. I tell the young guys not to get too high and not to get too low. Ryan’s a curious player in that he always wants to listen and learn. He’ll get through this.”

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