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Crazy match, crazy stats as Opelka-Isner play out longest tiebreak in ATP Tour history
Reilly Opelka won the tiebreak 24-22 while a number of records also fell as he booked his place in the final of the Dallas Open
Sometimes the statistics really do tell the story.
The fact that Reilly Opelka beat John Isner in two tiebreak sets – to reach the final of the Dallas Open – was no huge surprise; Opelka had won three of their four previous matches and has been playing the far better tennis of the two over the past year.
But the manner of the win will live in history for a long time after the two men played a mammoth second-set tiebreak which containing 46 points, 10 set points and eight match points before Opelka finally clinched it 24-22 to give him a 7-6 (7), 7-6 (22) victory and a place in the final.
It was the longest tiebreak in terms of points played in a main-draw match since the ATP Tour began in 1990, another record for Isner to add to his resume, albeit a bit behind his 11-hour, five-minute win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 which will surely remain the longest match until the end of time.
Records to fall
24-22 – Number of points in a tiebreak in an ATP Tour main-draw match
12- Number of consecutive tiebreaks between two players
39 – Number of aces in a two-set match on ATP Tour (Opelka)
Other incredible stats
10 – Set points saved by Opelka in the second set
7 – Match points saved by Isner
0 – Break points for either man
Record aces for Opelka, no break points
It was always going to be a match of few rallies, the two men top of the overall aces per match stats and ATP serve stats over the past year, not to mention the fact they had played out10 consecutive tiebreak sets before last night’s meeting. But neither man even had a look in on returns, with each winning more than 85 percent of points on their first serves.
Opelka hit 39 aces, a record for a two-set match and neither man forced a single break point. It was a battle of concentration, wills and unerring accuracy on serve that took them all the way through a tiebreak that was a mini-match in itself.
Isner saved match point at 6-7, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19 and 20-21 while Opelka saved set point at: 5-6, 7-8, 8-9, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18, 19-20, 21-22 before finally finding a return and a backhand winner to finish the match.
According to the ATP, there have been no breaks of serve between the two in their past 98 games.
The tiebreak went on so long that Opelka admitted he had lost track of when to change ends.
“At one point it was 21-all… that’s something I’ve never seen before, but if it was going to happen, it certainly would have been in this match,” he said.
Opelka will have to do it all again on Sunday when he takes on Jenson Brooksby, who saved four match points in victory over another American Marcos Giron.