Losing in the first qualifying round in Brisbane at the beginning of the season, Reilly Opelka had better runs in Sydney and the Australian Open (beating John Isner in four tie breaks) and grabbed the first ATP title in February at home in New York.
The giant server saved six match points against Isner in the semi-final and prevailed against Brayden Schnur in the title match for the first success on the Tour, not playing on that level in recent months but gaining the momentum again at home in Atlanta where he reached the semi-final.
A dedicated and hard-working young man has improved various elements in his game, including that booming serve, to find himself in the top-50, seeking a great result at the home Major in New York and hoping to advance into the second week.
Still, Reilly is aware he would probably go to the US Open as the unseeded player, with a possibility of facing even Novak Djokovic or some other tough rival in the first round. “My serve has been working great, it has been very effective, especially in Atlanta.
I thought I served well there, did a good job on the first ball as well and I also think I have been moving really well, improving my fitness and athleticism a lot and playing some good defense when I need to be. Just from a comfort standpoint, I love being in the States; we are kind of spoiled here.
It is nice having WiFi here, being able to communicate with friends easier, and it is different when we are in Europe. I never doubted my ability or anything like that. My motivation was always pon, even at Challenger events that can be rough, it is not a glamorous life at all.
You are playing some big and important matches of your career with just a few people in the crowd, you have to grind there and I was eager to reach the ATP Tour level. Part of that has served me well, as a way for me to be really motivated to make it to the top-50 where I don’t have to play those events.
We are kind of in the middle of a little bit of a generation change and both Taylor Fritz and I have been playing well. We are definitely improving, and it is fun just hanging out with him and having him as a friend on the road.
John Isner has done great things for the sport and especially for American tennis. I don’t try to copy, I have definitely become my own player. There are similarities because of our size but I think I have done a good job of playing my own way and just improving based on my game.
John has been a great role model for all of us young guys and to see him competing, see how professional he is, see how he handles himself on and off the court. He is a true professional and I think he has been a great face for American tennis for the last ten years.
My main focus is on Grand Slams, I love playing in the States and these lead-up tournaments to the US Open are so much fun, I think the conditions suit me well and I can have some success. But, the priority is the US Open. I want to make sure I’m really well rested for that and prepared to hopefully have a long week there, a long two weeks.
Most likely I’ll be unseeded soo I can play Djokovic first round, it is hard to say. You could play anyone and that’s why it’s really hard to say I want to do this or this, a lot of it depends on the draw.”