Toronto, media criticism, height: Everything you always wanted to know about Reilly Opelka (but never had time to find out)

Reilly Opelka has made headlines recently, on and off the court. Here are the answers to 10 questions you may have about the American

Reilly Opelka 2021 Icon SMI / Panoramic

Who is Reilly Opelka ?

Reilly Opelka is an American professional tennis player, born on August 28, 1997 in Saint Joseph, United States. He now lives in Delray Beach, Florida. He is characterised by his height (6ft 11in or 2.11 metres, which gives him an excellent service, and a long hair and beard look that makes him easy to recognise.

Why did Reilly Opelka say that tennis journalists were the “worst” journalists” in any sport?

In the autumn of 2021, Reilly Opelka confirmed and substantiated in Inside Tennis magazine comments he first made at the US Open that all tennis journalists “suck.” The reporters are terrible, bad, there are some that it seems like they’re only there to criticise, he said. T”hese guys know nothing about tennis. I think we have the worst media in any sport. They are horrible and hold our sport back.” While he was praised in some quarters for his outspokenness, which is rare in tennis circles, Opelka was the subject of an article by Remi Bourrières in Tennis Majors, inviting him to debate the issue in a more dispassionate and informed manner.

How did Reilly Opelka make a splash in Toronto in 2021?

Reilly Opelka reached the final of the Toronto 2021 tournament, a first for him in a Masters 1000. The American beat Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, Roberto Bautista Agut and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals during his run in Canada, among others. Against the Greek, number three in the world,  he picked up the biggest win of his career. In the final, he lost to world No 2 Daniil Medvedev.

What is his style of play?

The American is 6 ft 11in and weighs 102 kilograms, according to his profile on the official ATP website. He is the tallest player on the ATP Tour, tied with Ivo Karlovic. His main and overwhelming weapon is his serve. But, like any member of the top 20 (he became one in the summer of 2020), he has been able to work on the other facets of his game. Only his volley can be considered a strong shot, though.

Reilly Opelka, Toronto 2021 – John E. Sokolowski / AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Does Reilly Opelka hold any records?

Yes. In a semi-final match against John Isner in the Dallas Open in February, 2022, he hit 39 aces, the most ever hit in a two-set ATP Tour match. He also shares with Isner the record for the longest tiebreak, at ATP Tour level, having won the second-set of their battle 24-22.

How did Reilly Opelka develop his professional career

Reilly Opelka played on the junior circuit, where he shone with his results. The American surprisingly won Wimbledon in 2015, beating Taylor Fritz, the world’s No 1 junior at the time, in the semi-finals and Mikael Ymer in the final. This is his only Grand Slam title. That same year, he made the jump to the pros, but had to wait another year to win his first match on the ATP Tour. In Atlanta, when he was ranked 837th in the world, the American won in the first round against Christopher Eubanks. He even made it to the semi-finals after wins over Kevin Anderson and Donald Young. John Isner blocked his path to the final.

Who is the coach of Opelka?

Opelka is coached by Jay Berger, a former US player who reached No. 7 in the world in 1990. That same year, he had notably reached the final … in Toronto, like Opelka in 2021. He lost to his compatriot Michael Chang. Berger was known for a very specific service gesture, as he cocked his arm even before the throw, and for an imposing kneebend.

Has Reilly Opelka ever won an ATP Tour event?

The St Joseph native already has two ATP titles to his credit. The first came in New York in 2019 where he saved six match points and hit 43 aces in the semi-finals against John Isner. In the final, he defeated Brayden Schnur, also smashing down 43 aces! Opelka’s second title came in Delray Beach in 2020, again saving a match point in the process, in the semi-final against Milos Raonic. He dominated Yoshihito Nishioka in the final. 

What is Reilly Opelka’s best result in a Grand Slam event?

On the heels of his title in Toronto, Reilly Opelka achieved his best Grand Slam result of 2021 by reaching the round of 16 at the US Open. Seeded No 22, he had dominated Kwon, Musetti and Basilashvili without dropping a set before being well beaten by South African Lloyd Harris. Previously, his best performance was a third round effort at Wimbledon in 2019 (lost to Milos Raonic) and a third round performance at the French Open in 2021 (lost to Daniil Medvedev)

What is his best ranking?

The American earned his highest ranking on September 13, 2021, after his round of 16 showing at the US Open, reaching No 19 in the world. Since his final in Toronto four weeks before (23rd), he had been the No 1 American on the men’s side.

Is Reilly Opelka active on social media?

Yes, the American often publishes photos on Instagram, where he is followed by 54,200 people, as of August, 2021. He shares his news on and off the ATP Tour. Opelka also has a Twitter account, with 4,950 followers. 

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