Reilly Opelka ousts Nick Kyrgios to set up all-American final in Houston
Reilly Opelka and John Isner have ensured that the US Men’s Clay Court Championships will be won by an American.
Opelka reached his third tour-level final with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Australian Nick Kyrgios.
Isner meanwhile came from behind to beat defending champ Cristian Garin, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that had the crowd on their feet.
A maiden clay-court final for @ReillyOpelka 👏
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 9, 2022
The final in Houston is set to be all about power but both players are also playing very well when it comes to touch.
Opelka feels that he has consistently improved throughout the tournament.
“I’ve progressed every match,” Reilly Opelka said.
“I’ve felt more and more comfortable moving and sliding and all that.
“Every warmup I’ve had has been long because I’ve been trying to get more feel and more comfort on this stuff. It’s not second nature like it is for Garin. He can take a year off and come here and feel right at home. Different story for me.”
The US Men’s Clay Court Championships have thrown up a great final from what Opelka described as a stacked draw.
“That’s what you want in the final. For the tournament’s sake… you want it to be the best match you can get,” he continued.
“I think this draw here, with Garin, Fritz, Isner, Kyrgios, Tommy Paul, who’s great on clay, it’s a stacked tournament, a very stacked field. It comes down to playing high-level tennis because it’s a high-level draw.”
Isner credits his serve with getting him out of trouble against Garin.
“It’s never easy when you have to come back form one set down,” Isner said. “My serve certainly helped me out a lot. I didn’t have to hit too many balls there at the end, and I didn’t want to.
“I’m so happy to be in the final again here. At my age now you never really know when you can get back to a final of a tournament like this.”
Isner was looking forward to battling ‘a younger version of himself’ in his third final in Houston.
“Reilly’s a great player,” Isner previewed. “Of course our matches are inherently close. We both serve very well, so we play a lot of close matches. It’s going to be fun for me. He’s definitely a younger version of myself — a younger, much hairier version of myself,” he joked.
“We really are great friends,” he continued. “I think he looks up to me… and I try to mentor him as best I can. But I won’t be doing that tomorrow.”
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