Five Things To Know About Reilly Opelka
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on 3 July 2019.
Reilly Opelka defeated Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday at Wimbledon to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. The victory was also his first five-set win. The 21-year-old is enjoying a breakout season that sees him projected to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 53 when the newest standings are released.
Read Opelka Hangs Tough To Edge Wawrinka
ATPTour.com takes a look at five things to know about the American.
1. He Already Has A Wimbledon Crown
Opelka is making his Wimbledon debut as a pro, but he’s no stranger to The All England Club. He beat Mikael Ymer to win his only junior Grand Slam title in 2015.
2. His 2019 Season Includes An ATP Tour Title
The American clinched his maiden trophy this February at the New York Open by defeating Brayden Schnur in a third-set tie-break. He also saved six match points against John Isner in a thrilling semi-final clash. Opelka finished the week with 156 aces, including 43 in the championship match, and closed out the tournament with 68 consecutive service holds.
“This [title] is definitely what I’m most proud of,” said Opelka. “I was tough mentally, especially losing a lot of first sets this week, and my first serve really helped me out. I was able to play clutch in those big moments.“
3. Opelka Is Part Of The “Triple Towers”
At 6’11”, Opelka joins Ivo Karlovic (6’11”) and Isner (6’10”) as the three tallest players on the ATP Tour. The trio also posed for a photo two years ago that could have passed for an NBA roster.
4. He Gets Mistaken For Isner
Not all tall people look alike, but Opelka finds himself frequently mistaken for the other American giant in tennis. He told ESPN that fans came up to him in France and asked for autographs thinking he was Isner.
“That one I had to play along with,” joked Opelka. He admitted to intentionally spelling Isner’s name wrong at times and signing for fans as “Jon”.
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5. Opelka Graduated From Challengers
Opelka set up his solid 2019 season with a dominant run last year on the ATP Challenger Tour. He finished the year with back-to-back Challenger titles in the United States and reached the championship match in four of his last six Challenger events.
"Last year was huge for me," reflected Opelka. "It was the first time I consistently put together a lot of matches in a row. I reached a lot of semi-finals and I think the year before there wasn't one week where I had won three matches in a row. Being able to play on the Challenger Tour and not as many ATP Tour events, helped me string all those matches together. It gave me a lot of confidence and I learned a lot about myself and my tennis. It allowed me to work on some things that I knew needed to be addressed."