Ben Johns hits a backhand in pickleball.
Ben Johns competing at the Veolia Austin Open powered by Invited. PPA Tour

Johns victorious in first meeting with Sock

LAKEWAY, TX - It was a match the whole pickleball world had been waiting for: the “old-school” pickleball of Ben Johns against the new-age, hyper athletic game style of Jack Sock.

The two met on Humana Championship Court with a spot in Championship Sunday’s gold medal match on the line.

Sock jumped out to an 8-3 lead in Game 1, partially spurred by some loose errors from the No. 1 seed, but Johns was able to slow the game down and gain the upper hand in cat-and-mouse rallies.

That, along with the occasional well-timed third-shot forehand drive, helped Johns take Game 1, 11-8.

Sock responded well in Game 2, catching fire with his own forehand to win 11-5 and force Game 3.

Then, for the second time on Thursday, Johns did what we’ve become accustomed to seeing him do on the pro tour: bring his best when it counts.

He got out to an 8-2 lead in the deciding game and didn’t look back from there, again relying heavily on his ability to patiently work his way to the kitchen and gain the advantage from there.

That patience was especially important for Johns when he was serving.

“[Sock’s] gonna hit winners, so you’ve got to accept that,” he explained. “You’ve also got to buckle down on your serve and make sure you’re scoring as well so he doesn’t run away with it, like he did in Game 2.”

That’s what it took for Ben Johns to reach his second singles final of 2024.