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Pro Media & News

Reilly Opelka outduels John Isner in all-American Houston final

Arthur Kapetanakis | April 10, 2022

Reilly Opelka won his second ATP Tour title of the 2022 season by beating good friend and mentor John Isner in an all-American final Sunday at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship. The Houston ATP 250 title is the world No. 18's first on clay.

 

Opelka's 6-3, 7-6(7) victory earned him his fourth career ATP trophy, with all four coming in the U.S. The 24-year-old was competing in his third final of the year — second only to Rafael Nadal's four on the young season. Opelka previously won the title in Dallas, beating Jenson Brooksby in another all-U.S. final on home soil, before finishing as runner-up in Delray Beach.

 

During his Houston trophy speech, Opelka was quick to credit 2013 Houston champ Isner's influence on his blossoming career: “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," he said.

"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.”

 

In this battle of big servers, Opelka faced eight break points but managed to save each one — including seven in the second set. Isner created at least one break chance in each of his first four return games in set two, then had to save one on his own serve at 5-5 as the set ticked towards a tiebreak.

 

The 6-3 opening set ended a run of 12 tiebreak sets between the Americans, including the historic 24-22 tie-break that decided their Dallas semi-final in February. That 46-point tie-break is the longest in ATP Tour history.

 

Opelka now leads Isner, 5-1, in their head-to-head history after winning the pair's last five meetings.

 

“We’ve played a handful of times and you keep on beating me. I hate you for that!" Isner joked during the trophy ceremony.

 

"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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