Reilly Opelka bounced back from an early loss in New York to go all the way at the Delray Beach Open. He relied on a mature, clear-headed mindset to erase the disappointment of not defending his first ATP title to instead come away with his second.
“I reset at the start of the year,” he told Baseline.Tennis.com. “It’s an 11-month long season; we have a lot of tennis to be played. That week wasn’t a make or break for me at all, I just want to focus on getting better. I’ve got a long way to go.”
The 22-year-old’s memorable run has all been playing out on his home turf. He’s a Delray Beach resident, relocating to the small South Florida town to be closer to his coach Jay Berger. Opelka’s house has been hangout central for most of the Americans in town, including Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz.
“It’s always nice playing at home and be able to stay at my own house, sleep in my own bed,” Opelka said.
He didn’t get to spend much time at home this weekend, as he waited out rain delays on Saturday, eventually having to play his semifinal against Milos Raonic on Sunday morning. He saved a match point in a 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over the Canadian. That afternoon, he faced a well-rested Yoshihito Nishioka for the crown, and battled through three more sets, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2.
By day's end, Opelka had hit 47 total aces across the two matches. He's the first American male to win a singles title in 2020.
"I'm just really proud of the way I fought in the third set," Opelka said of his Nishioka win. "I got an early break and I broke again. Physically I was feeling pretty good. If he broke me and we had to play more tennis, I was fine."
As good as a second ATP title feels, Opelka has much loftier goals in mind as he settles in for the long haul.
“My long term goal is too content for a Grand Slam title,” he said. “I don’t see the happening necessary this year. I’ve got a lot of improvements to make. I’ve got to develop a lot more before that happens. That’s kind of all I’m focusing on.”