Opelka Strikes Late, Downs Medvedev In St. Petersburg

American to face Coric in quarter-finals

After dropping serve twice in the first set, Reilly Opelka produced a clinical comeback performance to eliminate defending champion Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 at the St. Petersburg Open.

The 6’11” American saved four break points in the deciding set, before ripping a crosscourt forehand winner on his first break opportunity to complete the biggest win of his career. Opelka claimed breaks in the final games of the second and third sets to complete a one-hour, 55-minute victory and improve his record to 6-6 against Top 10 opponents.

“It was ugly for the first set-and-a-half. I felt like I barely won any points on his serve, but part of that is just because of my opponent… Daniil is an absolute nightmare to play, especially for a guy like me because he just runs every ball down,” said Opelka in an on-court interview.

The Delray Beach champion entered the tournament on a three-match losing streak, but has raised his game in crucial moments on the indoor hard courts to reach his fourth quarter-final of the year. In the first round, the 23-year-old survived a second-set tie-break before completing a three-set victory against Nino Serdarusic.

“It is always a tough match, playing one of the best players in the world in general, but especially at [his] home. [It is] a great win for me,” said Opelka.

All of Opelka and Medvedev’s ATP Head2Head meetings have been contested in the United States or Russia. On each occasion, the home player has been defeated. Opelka lost both his previous matches against the World No. 6 in final-set tie-breaks at the 2017 Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau.

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“It was ugly for the first set-and-a-half. I felt like I barely won any points on his serve, but part of that is just because of my opponent… Daniil is an absolute nightmare to play, especially for a guy like me because he just runs every ball down,” said Opelka.

The World No. 36 will next face last year’s runner-up Borna Coric in the quarter-finals. Coric booked his place in the last eight with a 6-3, 7-5 win against Russian wild card Roman Safiullin 6-3, 7-5. Opelka battled from a set down to beat Coric in their only previous ATP Head2Head encounter at last year’s Western & Southern Open.

Fourth seed Karen Khachanov survived a scare against countryman Aslan Karatsev. The World No. 17 was forced to recover from a set down to beat the 27-year-old 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Centre Court. Khachanov dropped just six points behind his first serve in the final two sets (36/42) to turn the match in his favour.

Karatsev was attempting to continue his strong run of form since the resumption of the ATP Tour in August. The World No. 117 returned to action on the ATP Challenger Tour and won 15 of his 16 matches across three weeks in the Czech Republic to claim trophies in Prague and Ostrava. Karatsev’s only loss during that period came against Stan Wawrinka.

Khachanov will face Milos Raonic for the first time in the quarter-finals. The Canadian saved all four break points he faced to beat Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes.

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