Less than a year ago, Jack Sock was at the top of the tennis world after winning Paris Masters titles and scoring two wins at the ATP Finals to reach the semi-final and become world number 8! Expectations were high for the American in 2018 but he never repeated the form from the end of the last season, winning just nine matches on the Tour and dropping out from the Top 100 for the first time since March 2014 a few weeks ago after losing those points from Paris and London.
Playing in the last tournament as a Top 25 player, Jack managed to at least reduce the damage after reaching the quarter-final in Paris two weeks ago to earn 180 points and stand just outside the Top 100. In addition, Sock has secured the participation at the first Grand Slam of the next season in Melbourne with or without some withdrawals on the list in front of him, winning the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge in front of the players who are battling at the American Challengers in the last couple of weeks. Usually, those tournaments in the USA are the main base for earning this invitation but the Challenge includes all the results from the hard court ATP and Challenger events from all over the world in the last three weeks, and there was no chance that someone could grab enough points in Charlottesville, Knoxville, Houston or Champaign and move in front of him.
Youngsters Tommy Paul and Reilly Opelka have won titles in the last couple of weeks to stand on the 80 points and they should battle for that second place on the list and a chance to secure the Australian Open wild card if Sock gets in the draw directly, which is very likely to happen.
Bjorn Fratangelo is currently fourth and he opted to play the stronger Challenger in Houston, hoping to add enough points to his tally and pass Tommy and Reilly. There's a WTA 125K Series event in Houston as well and the race is on between Varvara Lepchenko and the 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe who won tournaments in Macon and Tyler in the first two weeks of the Wild Card Challenge.
The 32-year-old Lepchenko missed a chance to add more points to her tally in Las Vegas last week and it should all come down to their second round clash is Osuigwe beats Naomi Broady in the opener after qualifying for the main draw.
Danielle Lao is 40 points behind them but she is not in Houston so all eyes will be set on Lepchenko and Osuigwe, seeking the opportunity to avoid the qualifications and earn nice money and maybe the points in Melbourne. Current standings: