Another Source Of Conflict In Tennis: Are You Up Or Down On Doubles?
By the tournament’s stretch run, all of Australia was celebrating doubles since the men’s, women’s, mixed and wheelchair finals included at least one native son or daughter. (An Australian hasn’t won a singles title here since 1978.) But no amount of success will sway Sock to embrace doubles exclusively.
Sock, who played most of last year with Mike Bryan because Bryan’s twin, Bob, was nursing a hip injury, won two majors and about $1.3 million playing doubles and $738,747 while compiling a 9-21 record in singles. He finished 17th over all in ATP prize money despite ranking outside the top 100 in singles.
“It’s not just singles that you can make a career from in tennis,” said Murray, who has six Grand Slam titles to his brother Andy’s three in singles. “It’s important for a lot of young kids to know that growing up. It’s not easy to make it in the tennis world. There are only a few people that can make a really good living from the game. The journey is incredibly long. However you get there, whether it’s singles or doubles or whatever, there’s options there for you.”
With four career singles titles, including three in 2017, Sock would appear to have more options than most. But he doesn’t see it that way.
Ryan Harrison, who teamed with Sam Querrey to beat Sock and Withrow in the round of 16 this week, said: “Jack doesn’t want to feel discredited for his singles ability because of his dominance in doubles. And a lot of time his success in doubles overshadows him as a top-10 singles player. He’s going, ‘I’ve been 8 in the world in singles, and people are talking about me like a doubles guy.’ That perception is always going to be difficult for him.”
As long as the stigma persists that doubles players are lesser than singles players, the Socks of the sport are going to have a strong incentive to stick to singles. Harrison said he has tried to appeal to Sock’s vanity.
“I’ve told him it’d give him more confidence in singles if he took more pride in literally being the most dominant doubles player,” Harrison said. “He feels like he’s being viewed as someone not capable of playing singles.”
Mike Bryan said he hated to hear Sock would sooner leave the sport than stick to doubles.
“When he gets out on the doubles court, he has a blast,” Bryan said. “And because of doubles, he’s played in some of the biggest stadiums in the world, he’s won a gold medal, he’s been honored at a Nebraska football game. What’s the harm in all of that?”