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Top seed Sock bows out as ASB Classic

January 10, 2018

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Top-seed and defending champion Jack Sock bowed out of the ATP Tour’s ASB Classic in its second round Wednesday, beaten 6-3, 6-3 by unseeded German Peter Gojowczyk on a bad day for American players.

Sock’s compatriots, third-seeded Sam Querrey, fourth-seeded John Isner and unseeded Steve Johnson, were also beaten in second round matches.

Querrey lost 6-4, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) to Czech Jiri Vesely in 2 hours, 20 minutes, two-time champion Isner lost 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-2 to Hyeon Chung of Korea and Johnson was beaten 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by fifth-seeded former champion Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

Apart from Sock’s departure, one of the main surprises Wednesday was the ease with which second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro dismissed Canadian teenage star Denis Shapovalov. Argentina’s del Potro, who beat Querrey to win the 2009 ASB Classic, needed only an hour to pass Shapovalov 6-2, 6-4.

Shapovalov beat del Potro when the pair first met in Montreal last year but the 18-year-old made too many errors Wednesday to repeat that performance.

The eighth-ranked Sock seldom looked engaged in his match which lasted 62 mintues and left the court, and the tournament, to muted applause from disappointed fans.

Gojowczyk, ranked 65, moved Sock around the court with deep ground strokes which created angles the American was unable to defend.

After dropping serve in the fifth game of the first set, Gojowczyk broke Sock in the sixth and eighth games to take the set in 32 minutes. If Sock expected the German to falter in the second set he was disappointed: Gojowczyk served strongly and broke the top seed in the seventh and ninth games to post his second win over a top-10 player.

Sock later denied he had not made a full effort in his first match of the year.

“I was trying the whole match,” Sock said. “Am I the first top 10 guy to lose to a guy outside the top 50? Probably not. It was my first game of the year. I don’t know what you guys expect of me.”

Gojowczyk always looked sharper Wednesday, possibly because of his better preparation. Sock was playing his first match in 2018 after receiving a bye through the first round in Auckland while Gojowczyk reached the quarterfinals in Doha last week and was playing his second match in the current tournament.

“It’s tough to play the first match on tour,” Gojowczyk said. “It was his first tournament which is always not easy to play.

“I’ve had matches already...I was playing in Doha and had some matches already so I felt better on court and that helped me a lot.”

Isner’s powerful serve wasn’t enough to save him in his 2 hour, 24 minute battle with Chung, the winner of last year’s ATP Next Generation finals.

The tall American, who served 1,123 aces in 2017, hit 30 more Wednesday but Chung replied with 18 aces of his own and added a superb returning game, while Isner made 58 unforced errors.

Chung will now meet four-time champion David Ferrer of Spain who beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2.

Johnson, a semfinalist in Auckland last year, looked on target for an easy win when he swept through the first set against Bautista Agut in 35 minutes. He troubled the fifth seed with his sliced backhand and heavy top-spin forehand. But Bautista Agut stepped up in the second and third sets, putting more first serves in play and returning strongly to create chances at the net.

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