Familiar Enemies Johnson, sock set for the final in Indian Wells | ATP tour


There will be no secrets in the final on Sunday at the ATP Challenger Tour in Indian Wells. Close friends and longtime enemies Steve Johnson and Jack sock are ready for an all-American showdown under the desert sun, in which both of them are looking for a decisive victory before the BNP Paribas Open.

The championship at the Oracle Challenger series – Indian Wells, has 30-year-old Johnson compete against 27-year-old Sock in what will be the eleventh meeting between the two. They will not face each other at Stadium 5 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden until 12:30 p.m. PST.

Together, the Americans tried to win the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and won the bronze medal in the men’s doubles. But they have also had a few encounters on their own. In total, they both have five wins in their long-running rivalry, with Johnson most recently winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 at the ATP Tour event in Delray Beach last month.

The Southern California native claimed two of her three ATP Challenger Tour meetings, including her last clash at the Sarasota Open in 2013, while Sock one 4-3 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head Tour-level series. The native Nebraska triumphed especially in straight sets Roland Garros in 2014.

So far 2020 has been a resurgent season for both participants, and Sunday’s final will serve as a very important test. After struggling with form and confidence last year, a piece of silver will go a long way for both Johnson and Sock.

Johnson, who opened his campaign with a title at another Challenger 125 event – Canberra International in Bendigo, Australia – also reached his first ATP Tour quarter-finals of the year at Delray Beach Open from VITACOST.com. He’s been a force at Indian Wells all week and only lost one set on the way to the title fight. The world number 75 is expected to climb to at least 66th place on the FedEx ATP rankings on Monday.

“I always enjoy being in the desert and competing,” said Johnson. “This is pretty much my home tournament. It’s my favorite event and it’s always important to be good here.

“I thought I played the breakpoints well today. It was definitely an improvement over the last few days. It’s great to have another game here at Indian Wells. We’ll go on from there. I’ll have a nice dinner tonight and focus on tomorrow’s game when it comes down to it. “

Photos: Oracle Challenger series/ Jared Wickerham

Sock is now on a long way back to the top of the men’s group after surviving a combined dry spell of 10 games on tour level and Challenger circuit after thumb surgery and a subsequent decline in form. Former number 8 in the world arrived at Delray Beach unranked, but with a win over Radu Albot – his first in the individual (not-Laver Cup) since 2018 – setting the stage for a big week in California.

The Nebraska native is in his first final since 2017 when he won his biggest trophy at Rolex Paris Masters. He has earned his way to the championship and is incredibly well placed Ugo Humbert in the second round, before losing Evgeny Donskoy, Denis Kudla and 18 years old Brandon Nakashima. In fact, four of his five wins came in decisive sets, including a comeback win against Nakashima in the semifinals on Saturday.

Regardless of the result, it will be a positive week for Sock, who climbed almost 400 places to at least 384th place in the world in the FedEx ATP ranking. A win on Sunday would move him into the top 300.


Mannarino faces Vukic in the Monterrey final
Top seeded and number 41 in the world at the Challenger 100 event in Monterrey, Mexico Adrian Mannarino will try to extend his winning streak in the finals when he beats Aleksandar Vukic On Sunday. In the title fight at the Abierto GNP Seguros, the 13-time Challenger Champion Mannarino will compete against the Australian Vukic, who is making his last debut.

The French veteran has not lost a Challenger final since 2013 and has eight straight wins in the battle for a trophy. He won his last Challenger title on his home soil in Quimper in 2017, before winning his first ATP Tour title on the ‘s-Hertogenbosch lawn last year.

Vukic, meanwhile, is enjoying a week of breakthrough on the Monterrey hard courts with five wins in six days. He stunned the second semen Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday for the first win over a top 60 opponent before hitting a career high of 31 aces to the Edge Ernesto Escobedo in the semifinals on Saturday. The 23-year-old, a former University of Illinois standout, is set to crack the top 200 for the first time on Monday.

In their only previous encounter, Mannarino celebrated a convincing 6-1, 6-2 victory at the stop of the ATP Challenger Tour in Noumea in 2017.

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