Sunday, October 2, 2022

Big server Isner, Opelka set up All-American Houston Finals. Taiwan News | 2022-04-10 07:12:09

HOUSTON ( Associated Press) — Long, big-hitting Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka make fun of being “all-bots” and their similar style of play will be pitted against each other in the finals of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships.

Fourth-seeded Isner, who won the 2013 Houston title, hit 17 aces on Saturday to beat defending champion Christian Garin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals. Third seed Opelka stunned Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to score 21 aces.

Final Sunday will be the sixth career meeting between 24-year-old Opelka, who is listed at 6-foot-11 by the ATP, and Isner, 36, who is listed at 6-10.

Opelka face 4-1 with four consecutive wins.

“When people like Reilly and I blow the horn,” Isner said, “it’s going to be a tiebreaker.”

Talk about a minority.

The last 12 sets they fought all went to tiebreakers, including one that Isner called Saturday “ridiculous.” That’s because it went 24-22 in the semifinals in Dallas in February—the longest tiebreaker in an ATP match since 1990. Opelka landed 39 aces in that win, 18 more than Isner.

Isner is up to 71 aces this week after playing three consecutive sets, breaking his own Houston record for the tournament, which he had set in 2013.

“Mud is a good surface for people like Reilly and I,” Isner said. “Our service is good anywhere. In my opinion, we do not need a fast court to serve. And we both probably prefer a slightly slower court, time to get in the points and wind ourselves up for shots. The fast courts make it very difficult.”

He is in his first tour-level clay final since Houston nine years ago and the first on any surface since Atlanta’s hard court in August 2021.

Meanwhile, Opelka reached their third ATP Finals of the season; Only 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has more, four.

This is the first Tour-level final on the surface other than a hard court for Opelka, who are ranked 18th in the world.


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