ATP

Reilly Opelka: The Next Star of American Men’s Tennis?

After reaching a career high ranking of No. 22, could Reilly Opelka become the next star of American men’s tennis?

Reilly Opelka jumped ten spots in the ATP singles rankings this week after reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Toronto on Sunday. He lost in straight sets to the No.1 seed Daniil Medvedev, but showed many tennis fans why this won’t the last big final of his career.

Opelka won his first career ATP singles title on the hard courts of New York in 2019, an ATP 250 event. He then went on to claim his second singles title in Delray Beach, another 250 level event, in 2020. Many wondered with his 6’11” frame and big serve if he could potentially jump into the Top 10 like John Isner did back in 2018. Various tennis analysts and broadcasters have compared Opelka and Isner’s games because of the big serve and big forehand. Opelka surpassed Isner on Monday morning in the singles rankings as the tour’s top-ranked American man.

Opelka came into Toronto after getting bounced in the third round of the Citi Open in Washington D.C. to John Millman in straight sets. In fact, most were expecting him to potentially lose in his first round match in Toronto against Australian Nick Kyrgios. Opelka dropped the first set to Kyrgios 4-6, but came back to win the match 6-4 in the deciding set. In the third round, he faced a match point against South Africa’s Lloyd Harris but prevailed in the end. In the semifinals against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, he dropped the first set in a tiebreak. He had to comeback once again and won the match 6-4 in the final set.

Opelka faced Daniil Medvedev in the final and looked a bit uncomfortable. Opelka isn’t used to many of his serves coming back and Medvedev was making him play. He lost the match 4-6, 3-6, and in the press conference after the match explained that it’s “hard to really hurt Medvedev.”

Opelka could become really dangerous in the big tournaments if he can continue to improve hitting his spots with his first serve. He is a better mover than somebody like John Isner, but Isner is more consistent with the groundstrokes. If he can work on being more tolerant in rallies, and learn when to go for big shots in important moments, he could easily jump into the Top 10 in the rankings in the coming months.

Opelka is scheduled to play Corentin Moutet of France in the first round of the Western & Southern Open Tuesday.