Opelka: 'It's Hard To Really Hurt' Medvedev
Reilly Opelka came up short in his maiden appearance in an ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto, but the 23-year-old was quick to draw on a host of positives following a defeat to one of the “top three returners in the world”. No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev prevailed 6-3, 6-4 in the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers final on Sunday.
Despite the result, it was a career-best week for Opelka, who has moved to a career-high No. 23 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the best mark of any of the 14 Americans in the Top 100. It was the 6' 11" American’s third ATP Tour final after his victories at Delray Beach last year and New York in 2019.
Opelka had outlasted Nick Kyrgios in three sets in the opening round, seen off former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, saved a match point against in-form Lloyd Harris and denied former World No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut. In the semi-finals he posted his first Top 5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas but felt Medvedev raised the bar in the final.
“It's hard to disrupt him, hard to hurt him, hard to really hurt him,” Opelka said. “Medvedev is top three best returners in the world, you could say. I'd say especially for a big guy, maybe he's No. 2 behind Novak for like a server like myself, because he's long.
“He can afford to stand far back, because he's lanky. He has like a really long reach. He's got a good wingspan… Yeah, and he's fast. He's a good athlete… As fast as he is he's able to get out of the corners quick, he's able to play deep back in the corner to me. Yeah, it's tough. There's not many answers when he's on like he was today.”
For only the third time in 15 tournaments this season, he strung together consecutive match wins after his charge to the Rome semi-finals and Roland Garros third round. The ATP Head2Head ledger now read 4-1 in the Russian’s favour, but prior to their two encounters this year, every match had gone the distance, the first two decided in a third-set tie-break.
“The discrepancy and level between me and those guys, it's extremely small. It's already small for anyone in general, but even for me it's always going to come down to a couple of points,” Opelka said.
“So it's just about the details, and I'm not gonna -- I'm confident, obviously I’ve won matches, I'll have some expectation of myself, but I'm not going to be riding this win for too long… Or not a win, but this week.
“I think this week was a great example of using that optimistic mindset as much as possible. I think it can extend some weeks, even if it's just one tournament per year, maybe two a year. I mean, look what this does for my ranking. That's all it takes.”