ATP Houston 2022: Reilly Opelka records thrilling win against John Isner to win maiden ATP clay title

Reilly Opelka beat the veteran tennis player 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) for his fourth ATP Tour title and his maiden Tour title on clay.

Reilly Opelka in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)

American tennis player Reilly Opelka beat compatriot John Isner on Monday to win the 2022 edition of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship. Opelka beat the veteran tennis player 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) for his fourth ATP Tour title. It was also his maiden Tour title on clay. After a breezy first set, Opelka had to dig deep in the second which saw Isner use all of his experience to drag it to the tie-break. Opelka indeed had predicted the game to go to that stage in his semi-final post-match press conference. The result can be viewed as a symbolic passing of the baton when it comes to American tennis as Opelka does feel like the present of the sport in the country at the moment.

“He was my idol growing up as a kid, and before I even met him, I liked him. But since we’ve become such good friend and spent so much time on Tour, I like him even more now,” Opelka said after the match. “He’s been an unbelievable role model for not just myself, [but] Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul. We all say the same. He’s been an unbelievable competitor for a long time.”

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There were a total of 13 break points in the match that lasted one hour and 50 minutes. The tie-break saw five mini breaks as the advantage swung back and forth between Isner and Opelka. In the end, it was the latter who got the last laugh. The 24-year-old was down 4-6 against the veteran in the tie-break but fought his way back to win 9-7. It also was Opelka’s fifth straight victory against Isner.

“We’ve played a handful of times and you keep on beating me. I hate you for that.” Isner joked after the match. “But it was really cool to play you in a final. I think that’s very unique. Obviously there are a lot of similarities between Reilly and I, but I’m much older than him and he has a lot more years ahead of him on Tour, so for me to get to play you in a final, I think that’s very, very special.”

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