Tennis Reilly Opelka is American men's tennis & # 39;...

Reilly Opelka is American men's tennis & # 39; s next big hope for the Open


Reilly Opelka is familiar with the Flushing Meadows grounds, but only when admission is free under U.S. Open qualifier.

The new American man to watch, the 6-foot-11 Opelka, will make his U.S. Open draw draw Monday against No. 11 seed Fabio Fognini, when the tournament starts at approximately 1 p.m.

Court 17 – the fourth showcourt – was buzzing. Ranked 42th, he is the tallest player in tennis history with a 140 mph serving and mobility that 6-9 John Isner always wished he had.

Opelka, who turns 22 on Wednesday, has played in three straight Open qualifiers but never made it to the main event. Now his location is probably good enough for the main draw. He can't help but wonder if the USTA could have given him a wild-card boost in the past.

At 18, Opelka was ranked as high as 110 and never got a wild card here. Without naming names, he felt weakened.

"It's a nice feeling, especially because I earned my place," Opelka told The Post on Sunday. “Although I'm an American, I never took a wild card. Lots of guys had wild cards here and have never earned it. It is a better feeling that I was not picked. I should have.

“They gave it to the guys behind me. It's all political. "

Desperate for a men's star, USTA knocks on Opelka, who appears to be that guy – perhaps getting bigger than Isner, who never made it to the Slam finals.

Reilly Opelka shakes hands with Daniel Evans.Getty Images

Opelka, a Chicago Bears fan from Michigan who moved to Delay Beach, Florida, has a hot streak in town. He won the New York Open at the Coliseum in February.

However, he has a considerable task to face the great Italian service runners in Fognini, who upset Rafael Nadal on these grounds. It stands as the most compelling day-card battle.

"I have a tough draw," Opelka said. "It stinks. Everyone is good here, but it could have been better, could have been worse. I could have had Novak (Djokovic). & # 39; & # 39;

Opelka's parents are tall, so his growth spurt, which started at age 13 and ended at 17, was expected. "I grew a ton," Opelka said.

Opelka told The Palm Beach Post this week that he grew a quarter inch every month from 13 to 17 years. Because of the way he moves, Opelka's basketball height is only an advantage – from a service point of view and potential on the net. As Andy Roddick said this week, "You can't teach 6-11."

"I move better than Isner, but he earns better than I do," Opelka said. “He has the greatest service of all time. Isner has had a great success. There is more negativity about him, but when he was top 20 in the world for seven years, he just played in the wrong era against four of the greatest players of all time. & # 39; & # 39;

Opelka said fans need to be patient before labeling him a Grand Slam championship performer. The trend is for men's players to get closer to 30 years, he said. In fact, the average age of the top 100 men has risen dramatically.

"I think my best tennis is getting closer to 27, 28," Opelka said. “It's just preparation for it and learning experience. I hope my time is coming soon, but I don't expect it. "

Nor does he expect him to ever need a wild card from the USTA.

"Hopefully it's in the past and doesn't have to go that route again," Opelka said. "I earned my place and wasn't just here because I'm an American with a wild card."

. (tagsToTranslate) Sport (t) novak djokovic (t) rafael nadal (t) tennis (t) us open tennis


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