© Charlottesville Men's Pro Challenger

Reilly Opelka is all smiles after winning his first Challenger title in Charlottesville.

Opelka Reacts To Winning In Charlottesville

Reilly Opelka sits down with USTA Pro Circuit broadcaster Mike Cation after winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Charlottesville

Just short of 100 aces for the week, including 28 in the final. You said after your semi-final yesterday that you weren’t thrilled with how you served. How did you feel you served today?

I served much better today than yesterday, for sure. [Ruben] was a tough returner. I hit a lot of aces, but part of it is that I played a lot more points on my serve. Even if I did hit my spot, he was taking cuts at the ball and was dangerous. He was a nightmare for me today.

You only had one look at break chances today as well.

I was one for five today, but all of those came in one game. If you look at his results, he hasn’t been broken by many people here. Yesterday was a different story, but it’s not like I’m the only guy not breaking him. I feel like I probably return better than a lot of the guys that he’s already beaten here.

He didn’t miss one ball and was all over me. He didn’t give me a chance to swing. I was running a lot. It was brutal.

What impressed me most was the composure you had. How did your nerves feel as you were getting down the stretch in the third set?

I talk a lot when I play, but in those moments I’m pretty calm. I know that if hit my spot, the ball won’t come back. And he’s thinking more than me.  I have to put myself in his shoes. That makes me feel even more calm.

Even with my game now, if the ball comes back, I’m playing well from the baseline and volleying well. That was the key this week. I was beating guys from so many different parts of the court. I was defending when I had to and stealing a lot of points that way, coming in and volleying. I won five matches this week and you can see that I won them in a lot of different ways

Even though you still have a few more tournaments this year, have you thought about anything you want to work on during the off-season?

My shoulder is dead now. I can still hit [serves], but it wasn’t comfortable. It’s going to be huge to get better flexibility and strength in the off-season. I’m going to work with Mark Kovacs for four weeks and he’s going to kill me the entire time. But that’s what the off-season is all about.

You’re in a very comfortable lead now with the USTA Pro Circuit wild card challenge for the Australian Open. More importantly, you’re now guaranteed to play qualifying there with your [Emirates ATP] Ranking. Do you feel like you can play more freely for the next few weeks?

Definitely. Like I said, the wild card doesn’t mean anything to me. But being in qualies for the Australian Open, seven or eight months of playing tennis with no stress, no points to defend. Obviously it’ll be a different story when the BB&T Atlanta Open comes around. [Laughs]. The summer is going to be a grind, but it’s like that for everyone.

How do you celebrate tonight?

It’s Sunday, so watch some football and probably continue my routine. I watched some basketball last night. I’ve got to get on a flight pretty soon for the next event as well.

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