It ended 5-7 6-2 7-6 to the 25-year-old American who is competing at the eight man end of season championships for the first time.
“It was one of the most annoying noises I’ve ever heard in my life,” said Sock of the alarm. “I guess whatever was happening was taking place on the second floor where we were staying. It was super loud and super annoying and went on for a while.”
Sock said he put on some clothes and went outside where he bumped into the players Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. “Everyone was bundled up out in the freezing cold. It was pretty miserable. We all just wanted to get back inside.”
The crack of dawn interruption might in part explain his inconsistent start against Cilic. Both were seeking redemption after stumbling in their opening round matches on Sunday in the Boris Becker group. Sock lost to the second seed Roger Federer in straight sets while Cilic went down in three sets to the third seed Alex Zverev.
Sock broke Cilic in his opening service game but promptly lost his own. Cilic, competing in his third season ending finale, broke again to claim the opener after 51 minutes. But the 29-year-old was unable to maintain his composure and dropped his serve twice as Sock swept past him 6-2 to pocket the second.
But that blaze burned out at the start of the decider. Cilic took control and surged into a 3-0 lead. Again the Croatian could not hold on and was reeled in.
It went to a tiebreak. “I didn’t have any chances towards the end of the third set and neither did he and in the tiebreak it came down to a couple of points,” said Cilic.
Two moments in particular will haunt Cilic. Leading 4-3, his backhand cross court shot hit the net cord and dropped close to the net on Sock’s side. The American scrambled forward, stretched and scooped ball down the line to make it 4-4. And then when Sock was 5-4 up, he hit a back hand down the line which startled Cilic into an error.
“He hadn’t hit many shots down the line during the match and that was a big shot to hit at that stage of the match,” said Cilic. “It’s definitely disappointing fo rme. I put myself in a good position at the start of the third set but I didn’t close it out. I was in a good position in the match against Zverev and it was the same thing against Sock.”
Sock will play Zverev on Thursday with a chance of becoming the first American to reach the semis since Andy Roddick in 2004 in Houston.
“I really don’t care about that kind of stuff,” said Sock. “American number one … the first American to do this … whatever. I just like to go out, have fun and compete. Stats are what they are. I just want to go out there and enjoy the moment.”