23 Feb Opelka Saves Match Point to Charge into Delray Final
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Reilly Opelka rallied from a set down and staved off a match point to defeat Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 Sunday to reach his first final at the ATP Tour’s Delray Beach Open. The 6-foot-11 American will have very little time to celebrate the accomplishment, however.
The semifinal match was postponed Saturday night because of rain and moved to Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The championship final between Opelka, the No. 4 seed here this week, and Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan will be contested Sunday afternoon not before 3:30 p.m. after suitable rest for Opelka.
Raonic, ranked No. 37 in the world, was leading 6-5 and had a chance to close out the match in the second-set tiebreaker, but he hit a forehand long on match point and Opelka went on to win the tiebreaker and closed out the match by registering two breaks against Raonic in the final three games of the decisive third set.
Opelka, ranked No. 54 in the world, cranked out 19 aces against Raonic, giving him a tournament-leading 72 heading into the championship final. Raonic had 16 aces in the match that took a little more than two hours to determine a winner.
Opelka has played two matches in the same day in doubles before but said that the last time he remembers having to play twice in one day in singles was when he was 14 years old and competing in Juniors.
“It is what it is,” Opelka said before heading to the players lounge to rest and mentally prepare for the final.