Reilly Opelka lost his fourth-round match to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, who was almost impossible to deal with. His service games in the final two sets flew by faster than a reality TV star’s career, while Opelka’s serve and net play deserted him.
Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka overcame 41 unforced errors in an uneven match to still win his third-round U.S. Open match in straight sets against Nikoloz Basilashvili under the lights Saturday night, while making light of a $10,000 fine for carrying a pink tote bag with a non-regulation logo.
Thursday afternoon, on a picture-perfect afternoon in New York that followed a once-in-a-generation amount of flooding and disarray in this city, Opelka was the wiser, savvier player, schooling 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 7-6 (1), 7-5, 6-4, to advance to the third round for the first time.
Tuesday on Court 17 of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Opelka did what veteran high seeds are supposed to do: Take out a tricky opponent in straight sets, saving your body and energy for future rounds. Struggling in the opening set, Opelka used his skills and experience to turn back Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4.
The ex-Palm Coast resident came up short in the championship match of the National Bank Open in Toronto Sunday. Competing in a Masters 1000 level tournament final for the first time, Opelka was bested by World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, 6-4, 6-3.
The 7-footer Reilly Opelka, whose name will soon adorn the Palm Coast Tennis Center to mark his past and future ties with the city, catapults up to a career high ranking of No. 23, into his first Masters 1000 final. He’ll play either his good friend and fellow American John Isner or World No.2 Daniil Medvedev in the finals on Sunday.
It’s where he was a Junior Grand Slam Champion, in 2015, and with his huge serve and equally large groundstrokes, the former Indian Trails Middle School student figures to be a contender for the title at the All England Club for years to come. But not this year.
For Opelka, now up to No. 35 in the world rankings, the match was a huge opportunity to measure himself against the 12-time French Open champ and a man likely to break a tie with Roger Federer at 20 Slam titles at the upcoming French championships in two weeks.
The former Indian Trails Middle School student is in the midst of a career week at the Italian Open in Rome, reaching the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event (the biggest tournaments outside of the four Grand Slams) for the first time.
Palm Coast’s bet on a vast expansion of the Tennis Center into the Reilly Opelka Racquet Center rests on hopes for a much larger population ahead that would be keyed into tennis and pickleball, but optimistic–speculative–figures don’t match up with current trends despite a surge in 2020 in racket-sport participation.