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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday August 12, 2021

Reilly Opelka

Reilly Opelka has now won eight of his last nine at the Masters 1000s after defeating Roberta Bautista Agut on Friday in Toronto.

Photo Source: Getty

He may not be a finished product, but things are most certainly coming together for 23-year-old American Reilly Opelka. Today he notched an impressive 6-3, 7-6(1) victory over perennially Top-10 player Roberto Bautista Agut to reach his second consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal.

Tennis Express

Opelka, who will face World No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas next, will crack a career-high ranking next week for his efforts, and could find himself in the Top-25 if he can get past the Greek on Saturday.

Bautista Agut says there wasn’t a whole lot he could have done to stop the American’s momentum.

“I think I was doing my things well,” he said. “I was playing aggressive. I was winning a lot of points with my serve, also with my second serve. I was playing very aggressive. Well, when you play Reilly or John, these kind of players, as you know, everything happens in two, three points, no?”

Opelka, a 6’10” serving machine, says he has been playing good tennis since he began his US Open series at the Citi Open last week.

“I'm hitting my forehand really well and I'm serving well,” he said. “You know, I usually do those things pretty well, but when they are just a little bit sharper, when my serve is a little bit more accurate and my forehand unforced error count is low and I'm maintaining the same aggression, that's kind of when runs happen.

“It was honestly pretty similar last week even in Washington. I didn't get rewarded with the result, but I was playing good tennis. My first serve was the only thing that was slightly off, but besides that, I have been on the right track for a couple weeks now.”

Ready for Be a Steady Top-20 Player?

Opelka is more focused on his growth as a player than his ranking, but he does believe he is vastly improved, thanks to a revamped forehand, better physical fitness, and good old-fashioned experience.

Does he feel like he is ready to step in and be a steady Top-20 player?

“I don't know,” he said. “I'm just getting better. I'm getting a lot better. I think my forehand has improved a lot. Everything is improving. That's kind of what's fun.

“I don't set numbers on myself. I don't really set a ranking goal. I just try to get better. I think it's so hard to be, like, too result-oriented in this game just because the conditions are different every week. I really think last week to this week is such a perfect example because I really played great last week but I lost third round to John Millman in straight sets but I played really, really well. I just didn't get validated with the result there.

“So I think just being aware it's a long season, there is going to be some ups, downs. If I end up top 20, great. That's the goal. This is where ideally I want to be. I want to be a top player. That means I'm making runs in slams, Masters, I'm seeded, means I'm a threat, which I want.”


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