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Tennis

Tennis Thursday Bonus: Abrams picks Atlanta Open doubles, Sock & Withrow vs. McLachlan & Smith

Match scheduled for 5 pm EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

BB&T Atlanta Open

Atlanta, GA

Friday, July 26, 2019

Men’s Doubles

Jack Sock-Jackson Withrow over Ben McLachlan-John-Patrick Smith

Tennis is a funny game. Sometimes a player excels at tennis, period. Other times a player may develop certain skills that are more prized in either the singles game or the doubles game. For some reason, Jack Sock, who used to be a pretty darn good singles player, has seen his singles game plummet, while his doubles game has become one of the very best in the world. Last year, while he filled in for Bob Bryan (Bryan had hip replacement surgery) with Bob’s twin brother Mike, those two won two separate grand slam tournaments: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. When brother Bob made his comeback this year, once again teaming with Mike, Sock started playing with Jackson Withrow, a 26-year-old former 3-time All-American doubles player from Texas A&M, who was born in Omaha. They are a good team. They mesh well, they seem committed to the doubles game, and can win, although not at the pace of either the Bryan Brothers, or Sock/Mike Bryan. They had a particularly good win in the first round in Melbourne, beating the Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah, this year’s Wimbledon champions, but haven’t played together since. McLachlan-Smith are another not-terribly established team, with McLachlan more often playing with Jan-Lennard Struff, but last week they got to the semis of the Hall of Fame Open, which is a nice start to a partnership. I like Sock and Withrow here because it appears that Sock is trying to make doubles a very big part of his tennis repertoire. He made a comeback of sorts this week here in Atlanta in singles, dropping a tough match to Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6, 7-6, which may signal that he’s playing better singles than he did last summer. But once you taste Grand Slam championships, it’s hard to not make a strong try to get that feeling back, and it appears Sock has committed to doubles play, at least for now. Watch for his strong forehand, tough serve, and great movement. And, as always, doubles is played with a no-ad scoring system and a tiebreaker in lieu of a third set if the score is tied at a set apiece. This makes the matches quick and exciting, if a little too random in it’s deciding winners.

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