Opelka Kicks Off New York Title Defence With Serving Clinic
Reilly Opelka put on a serving masterclass in last year’s New York Open, firing 156 aces throughout the week to secure his maiden ATP Tour title. The third-seeded American appears primed for another big serving display this year, landing 20 aces on Thursday to defeat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4.
The 22-year-old grabbed the lone break in each set to reach the quarter-finals after 76 minutes. Opelka picked up his first win of the season after suffering tight first-round defeats in Adelaide and the Australian Open.
Next up for the defending champion is qualifier Jason Jung, who continued his inspired tennis at this event to upset seventh-seeded Brit Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4. Both of Jung’s ATP Tour quarter-finals, and four of his six ATP Tour main draw wins, have come in New York.
The 30-year-old from Chinese Taipei also showed the benefits of his grueling off-season. Jung effortlessly tracked down heavy shots from Norrie throughout the match that would be winners against many players.
“I felt like my legs let me down a few times in big matches last year that could have had a greater impact on my year-end [FedEx ATP] Ranking,” Jung said. “I could still run and fight, but though the head was willing, the body often was often not. Sometimes, I could feel my legs getting heavy and it probably affected my shot selection, and not for the better.”
Aussie Jordan Thompson exacted revenge on top seed John Isner for the upset of the week in New York. Twelve months after decisively falling to the American at this event, Thompson turned the tables with a 7-6(2), 6-7(3), 6-3 win to reach the quarter-finals.
”I’m pretty stoked about that. That was a tough match,” Thompson said. “I didn’t get too many looks at Isner’s serve, but managed to get the one break and held onto it.”
Isner and Thompson exchanged service holds in the first set to bring up a tie-break, where the Aussie raced through the first five points to take the early advantage. There were also no breaks in the second set, but it was Isner who stepped up in the tie-break this time. A forehand error with Thompson serving at 0/1 gave Isner a mini-break and the American eventually brought the match to a deciding set.
After more than two hours of play, a backhand volley error from Isner handed Thompson the lone break of the night and a 2-0 lead in the decider. The Aussie battler maintained his lead and closed out play after two hours and 32 minutes.
Thompson picked up his first win against Isner and improved to 1-3 in their ATP Head2Head series. He’ll look for another breakthrough victory when he meets Italian Andreas Seppi in the quarter-finals. The 25-year-old lost both of his previous meetings with Seppi, which took place last year at the Australian Open and Delray Beach.
Eighth seed Kyle Edmund avoided having the Brits go 0-2 in the day session by battling past German Dominik Koepfer 6-2, 6-4. Edmund converted four of seven break points and dictated the tempo in most of their baseline rallies.