New York, New York may be a wonderful town, but Reilly Opelka blasted his shots and brought out a crown. Four years ago, Opelka decided that he had to fulfil his passion and turn professional. It was a year later that he came on the ATP scene at the 2016 U.S.
Mens Clay Court Championships, losing the opening round to another American, Sam Querrey. Opelka started demonstrating signs of his soon capturing a title and it became obvious to many that he was definitely the one to observe, analyze and for his opponents to be aware of his strong potential.
Opelka often compared to John Isner because of their closeness in size; Opelka is 611 and John Isner is 610 but their similarities slowly began to peel apart. Opelka has definitely come out of his shell and into his tennis achievements looking like a real deal talent, turning more heads and getting lots of attention from his opponents and comrades on the ATP tour.
The signs were there of him soon capturing his first title no matter how subtle. First, Opelka became more consistent. Last year till now he was fighting to not only win the first opening set but started winning tiebreaking sets.
It happened at the last 2018 Delray Beach event he defeated Ryan Harrison in 2 tiebreak sets. Then it was the Sarasota Challenger where he defeated Blaz Rola 7-6, 6-3. It was at the Challenger Knoxville his persistence and determination at winning 7-6, 7-6 over Michael Redlicki.
The second sign was winning in straight sets. The Savannah Challenger over Christian Garin, Opelka won 6-4, 6-4. The Chicago Challenger over Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-4 as well as winning over the Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4 was starting to make a good indication of his potential.
When Opelka started winning over more prominent players this was another sign of good things to come. It was Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Sydney International; the Australian Open win over John Isner in 4 set-tiebreaks; Champaign Challenger over Kaichi Uchida in 3 sets; Knoxville Challenger defeating Bjorn Fratangelo in 3 sets; Delray Beach wins over Jack Sock; Challenger Cary win over Donald Young in straight sets.
Challenger Bordeaux success over Ernest Gulbis. The more recent Australian Open where Opelka did first round damage to John Isner, the indication was there. Opelka knew he was coming into something big. The fourth sign of Reilly Opelka has arrived is going deep in tournaments.
No matter the tournament be it a Challenger or the main draw the potential is there of hitting it big. The semifinals of the Challenger Sarasota, Challenger Savannah, Final of Challenger Bordeaux, Chicago, Cary, Knoxville, Champaign, and Dallas.
The fifth sign of Reilly Opelka coming of age in his tennis career is playing in more prominent ATP matches as well as grand slams. The experience of playing in a grand slam whether its winning the qualifiers or getting a wildcard cant be duplicated.
The Indian Wells Masters, Miami Open, the U.S. Mens Championships in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney, and all the grand slams Australian, French and U.S. Opens plus the Wimbledon Championships all have embraced Reilly Opelka. But as the NextGen guy tried his chances entering the second year New York Open in Long Island, no one could ever predict that here is where Opelka would earn his first ATP title.
He had dismantled his opponents round by round defeating Isner in 3 tiebreaking sets to land into the final with Canadas Brayden Schnur and win the title in three tough sets. The Hawkeye electronic machine had overturned a point that would have gave Schnur the match advantage, Opelka belted his 43rd ace to win his first career title.
The rallies were insane and Opelka described the situation saying I put myself in a good position throughout the whole match and the third-set breaker could have gone either way. It was his opponent Brayden Schnur who admitted that I tightened up at the wrong time.
But probably he did but Reilly Opelka had the pieces to the puzzle all sorted and there was no stopping him from overpowering and winning his first title above all in the ole New York.