(The Nov. 7 story was refiled to clarify the ninth paragraph to show Sock will end year as American number one for first time)
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - Jack Sock was so certain he would not qualify for next week’s ATP Finals that he had a tee time booked at Augusta National, but the American will have to wait another day to cross that round of golf off his bucket list.
Sock, who started last week in 24th position in the Race to London rankings, only secured the eighth and final spot in the season-ending showpiece with a breakthrough win at the Paris Masters on Sunday to reach a career-high ninth in the world.
For Sock, who is the first American to secure a berth at the season finale since Mardy Fish in 2011, the win means he will be among the elite field at the Nov. 12-19 tournament rather than golfing at the home of the prestigious Masters tournament.
“Golf is my second passion. Athletically it’s what I love to do when I am away from tennis. Obviously it would’ve been a bucket list thing for me to do,” Sock said in an interview. “But I would trade a tee time there to be here in a heartbeat.”
Sock did not know he had a shot at reaching the ATP Tour Finals when he stormed back from 5-1 down in the decisive set of his second-round clash with Kyle Edmund in Paris. He said he was only told of his chances after a third-round win over Lucas Pouille.
The 25-year-old American is now eager to extend his season as he gets ready to battle in a field that includes world number one Rafael Nadal and six-times champion Roger Federer.
“Obviously I got a lot confidence from the biggest title of my career and being a part of this event...” said Sock.
“I’m going to play some free tennis here and enjoy my time out on court and take all the confidence from the last few weeks of my season and definitely carry those into training for the offseason and into 2018.”
Sock, who will end the year as the American number one for the first time, may be making make his singles debut at the elite eight-player event but he insists he is not just happy to be there.
The rest of the field in London will be made up by debutants Alexander Zverev of Germany, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin of Belgium, and former qualifiers Austria’s Dominic Thiem and Croatia’s Marin Cilic.
“I have played a lot of these guys and beaten some of them, and especially with the confidence after last week, I have the belief in myself to go out and do some damage in this event,” said Sock.
Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Toby Davis