Melbourne - Ahead of the Australian Open last year, Jack
Sock was at a career-high eighth in the world rankings, but after a horror
season he has plunged outside the top 100 and is desperate to turn it around.
The American's form slump has been dramatic. He played 31
singles matches in 2018, winning a mere nine.
He lost to Bernard Tomic in his opening match at this week's
Kooyong Classic in Melbourne, and was on the losing end again on Thursday to
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, going down 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.
The final set was played as a 10-point tiebreak, which will
also be used at the first Grand Slam of the season beginning on Monday.
Under the rules, the first player to win at least 10 points
by a two-point margin takes the match.
"I had some pretty low moments last year, it was
horrendous," said Sock. "I did a lot of regrouping in the off-season,
talking to family, team members, coaches.
"I'm trying to take a positive outlook. I know the
level that I can play the game, where my game should be."
With the Australian Open just days away, he is grateful to
be out of the spotlight to focus on himself.
"It's nice to be able to fly under the radar and do my
Shapovalov, 19, made up for lost time after losing in the
first round at Auckland this week and then crossing the Tasman to squeeze into
the Kooyong draw as a late entry.
"It's great to be here and get another match, fire a
few balls," the world No.27 said. "It's another chance to get the
"You have some of the pressure, there's a crowd
watching. It's a chance to get a little bit more ready for the Slam."
Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner and Australian Open
finalist a year ago against Roger Federer, plays his second tune-up match
against Spain's Fernando Verdasco later on Thursday.
The Croatian started his Grand Slam warm-up Wednesday with a
defeat of Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson.