Opelka Serves Up Maiden Title In New York
American Reilly Opelka was pushed to the limit in a thrilling New York Open final on Sunday against Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur, but made good on his sixth championship point to prevail 6-1, 6-7(7), 7-6(7) and earn his first ATP Tour title.
“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.“
The 21-year-old finished the week with 156 aces, including 43 in Sunday’s championship match. He landed 72 per cent of his first-serves (312 of 436) and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points (276 of 312). After dropping serve twice in the first set of his opening-round match against fifth seed Adrian Mannarino, Opelka held in his next 68 service games to close out the week.
Opelka's Aces In 2019 Tour-Level Matches
|Sydney International||def. Ramos-Vinolas||2||16|
|Sydney International||l. to De Minaur||2||17|
|Australian Open||def. Isner||4||40|
|Australian Open||l. to Fabbiano||5||67|
|New York Open||def. Mannarino||3||24|
|New York Open||def. Istomin||2 (completed)||32|
|New York Open||def. Garcia-Lopez||2||14|
|New York Open||def. Isner||3||43|
|New York Open||def. Schnur||3||43|
Opelka fought back from a set down in victories this week over Mannarino, Denis Istomin (R2) and top seed John Isner (SF), winning second-set tie-breaks in all three matches. He also saved six match points in the second-set tie-break against Isner.
Despite the loss, Schnur can be satisfied with the best result of his career. The Canadian was an alternate into the qualifying draw and had never won an ATP Tour main draw match before this week. He saved two match points in his second-round victory over third seed Steve Johnson and five set points in the opening set of his semi-final win over sixth seed Sam Querrey.
“It’s a dream come true for me. This week showed that I belong in these big tournaments and playing against the top guys,” said Schnur. “It’s unfortunate the way it ended because I left it all out there and did everything I could, but that’s how sports go sometimes.”
The first set was one-way traffic for Opelka as he broke Schnur twice to take the early advantage after 18 minutes. Neither player dropped serve in the second set to force a tie-break. Schnur erased a championship point on his serve at 5/6 with a solid forehand volley. Opelka earned another championship point on his serve at 7/6, but double faulted as the crowd gasped. A backhand error from Opelka at 7/7 gave Schnur his first set point and he converted with a strong serve, leaping in the air as the crowd stood up to applaud the comeback.
The deciding set was identical to the previous one, with neither player dropping serve to set up a final-set tie-break. Opelka battled to a 6/4 lead, but hit a forehand error on his third championship point. Schnur rifled a forehand winner on the next point to even the score. A fifth championship point for Opelka came and went at 6/7 as the Canadian continued his brave play with a strong forehand approach.
A big first serve from the qualifier at 7/7 appeared to set up his first championship point, but a challenge from Opelka showed the ball was out. Schnur shockingly double faulted and, fittingly, Opelka hit his 43rd ace of the day on his sixth championship point to end the match after two hours and one minute.
Opelka picks up 250 ATP Ranking points and $119,800, while Schnur receives 150 ATP Ranking points and $64,780.