Tennis - Redemption for Sock in Auckland with victory over Sousa
AUCKLAND (Reuters) - American Jack Sock put the disappointment of withdrawing from last year's Auckland Classic final behind him on Saturday by clinching the 2017 title with a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory over Portugal's Joao Sousa.
Sock had to pull out of last year's decider due to a heavy bout of flu, which affected him the following week at the Australian Open where he needed five sets to beat 155th-ranked Taylor Fritz in his opening match.
He then crashed out in the second round against the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol.
Sock, who had won just one previous ATP Tour title, at Houston on clay in 2015, took the crucial points in the first set, which went with serve until the seventh game when Sousa double faulted to give the American the break.
The fourth seed consolidated to take a 5-3 lead and clinched the set in the ninth game when the Portuguese hit a forehand into the net.
After both players broke early in the second set, the match went on serve until the 27-year-old Sousa, who had won their only other previous meeting on clay in Madrid last year, broke Sock to take a 6-5 lead and served out to send it to a decider.
Sousa seized the advantage in the third set by breaking Sock in the third game but the American produced three outstanding forehand winners in the fourth to get back on serve at 2-2.
Sock continued to find success on the forehand and broke in the eighth game when Sousa double faulted. The American wasted little time wrapping up the title, sealing victory in a match that lasted a little under two hours.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)