American player Jack Sock was instantly surrounded Tuesday by a large throng of Canadian reporters at the Rogers Cup, and it didn't take him long to figure out why.
"Milos, oh yeah, the obvious question," came the quip from good-natured Sock, who had just finished dominating Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-3 to set up a second-round match with Toronto's own Milos Raonic, Wednesday after 6:30 p.m. ET.
On a day full of intriguing star-filled matchups in Toronto, the No. 6-seeded Canadian is still the headliner of the day on Centre Court tonight. Raonic is the face plastered all over the building, all over Toronto, as the star makes his one Canadian Tour stop of the year in the midst of a very successful season. Raonic is 4-1 versus Sock, dating back to their first meeting in 2013, but this is far from a breezy opening match for the last Canadian singles player left in the Rogers Cup.
Sock and Raonic met recently at Wimbledon and again last week in Washington, where Raonic went on to win the Citi Open.
"I'm definitely excited, the juices will be going," said unseeded 21-year-old Sock about the chance to take on the hometown favourite. "He got me in my home country last week so I'll try to get some revenge."
Sock won their first-ever meeting last winter, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in Memphis. Raonic took the next four, three on hard courts, one on grass. They played to two tie-breaks in last week's round of 32 in Washington.
"Last week was a good opportunity for me, I had a lot of chances," said Sock, the World No. 60." I served for the second set up a minibreak in both tiebreaks. Obviously, he's very experienced and he came up with some great shots and deserved to win that match. Hopefully, this time, I can put myself in those same positions and have those chances and this time, capitalize on them."
Some Canadians could be excused for having a soft spot for the U.S player with the memorable name. He's the doubles partner of Canada's Vasek Pospisil, the other half of the "PospiSock" team that just won the Wimbledon doubles title and another in Atlanta.
Sock is having some solid results recently. He began the year ranked No.100 and has risen 40 spots, making a couple of semi-finals and a final at some recent smaller U.S. hard-court ATP Tournaments.
The 23-year-old hard-serving Canadian is still seething from his loss to Roger Federer back in June as he made his first-ever appearance in the Grand Slam semi-final. He responded by winning his first title of the year in Washington, not dropping a set through five matches.
With fellow Canadian stars Pospisil and Genie Bouchard already out of the Rogers Cup after their first matches, Raonic now holds the torch. He'll aim to defend the points he earned last year in Montreal, as he rolled to his first ever Masters 1000 final before losing to Rafael Nadal, who dropped out this year due to a wrist injury.
"When you lose a player of Nadal's stature, it plugs the hole to have a local star in Milos; it's almost seamless," said tournament director Karl Hale. "Ticket sales are up, but what's more significant is people are all asking for Milos and sponsors all want to engage with Milos. Everyone is engaged at a deeper level because of Milos."