Looking to play college tennis
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo Credit: Brian Coleman/LI Tennis Magazine

 

After needing more than 10 minutes to hold serve in the match’s opening game, defending New York Open champion Reilly Opelka found his rhythm on serve the rest of the way to defeat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4 and reach the quarterfinals. 

“I thought I was pretty clean, I thought I was pretty committed to playing the same style the whole match,” said Opelka. “Aggressive tennis from the beginning—pretty clean, pretty organized—I served well, and I handled adversity well. Every break point I came up with some good serves, some good forehands, and played the big points pretty sharp.”

Opelka blasted 20 aces and secured late breaks at 5-4 in both sets to advance in one hour and 16 minutes. The 22-year-old American dialed up a couple of those aces when he faced break points in the first game of the match and once more later on.

“It’s a long turnaround from coming from Australia, which was early January, all the way to here,” said Opelka, who had no singles matches in between the Australian Open and his match on Thursday. “When you go three weeks without a match or competing you get a little rustry. So I think that showed in the first five minutes.”

In all, Opelka saved the four break points he faced, and won 78 percent of his first serves.

He now moves on to play Jason Jung, who advanced to the quarterfinals on Long Island for the second straight year by defeating seventh-seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4.

“It’s a tough matchup,” Opelka said of facing Jung. “He was tough for [Kevin] Anderson to play. We have a similar game. He hits the ball really low so as a big guy you feel like you’re hitting up on every ball and he’s hitting down on every ball—which isn’t fun. So I think a lot is going to come down on how I serve, and also how I handle the big moments in the match; if I take my chances and how I execute.”

Australia’s Jordan Thompson knocked out top-seed John Isner 7-6(2), 6-7(3), 6-3, withstanding 22 aces and securing the match’s lone break of serve for a 2-0 lead in the deciding set to grab his spot in the final eight.

 

“I’m just trying to play tennis and just get on with the job,” said Thompson. “Something about this court—it’s different. I think some guys find it tough to move on, but I think movement is probably the best part of my game. I’ve been moving pretty well out there, running down a lot of balls; I don’t mind playing here at all.”

For a spot in the semifinals, Thompson will meet Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

“I’d say I have to play a lot more aggressive than I have been,” said Thompson. “I’ve been trying to get into long baseline exchanges against these big guys, so I’ll probably have to try and do something different to win more points rather than just relying on my wheels to win points.”

In the first match of the day, Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund looked sharp as he dispatched Dominik Koepfer 6-2, 6-4. The eighth-seeded Edmund moves into a matchup with Soonwoo Kwon, who had upset second-seed Milos Raonic the night before.

“I don’t know a lot about him to be honest,” Edmund said of his next opponent. “I’ve seen he won two matches and playing well and beat the number two seed, so for sure he’s playing well.”

In doubles, Marcelo Arevalo and Jonny O’Mara defeated Tennys Sandgren and Robert Lindstedt 6-4, 6-7(6), 10-6 to advance to the semifinals, where they will play the American pairing of Opelka and Steve Johnson.