It’s not often Reilly Opelka breaks serve seven times in a match, but the American did just that in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win against Andrej Martin on Monday to lead several Americans into the second round at Roland Garros.
The 32nd seed is known for his booming serve, but against Martin he only hit 10 aces. More notably, the American won 50 per cent of his return points.
“I didn’t have my best serving day. I was starting to find it a little bit as the match went on, but I was kind of resting my arm leading up to it. I didn’t get the same amount of reps that I would like to on my serve. But I definitely wasn’t hitting my spots, so a lot of balls came back and I had to play a lot of tennis today,” Opelka said. “I’m very, very happy that I was able to stay aggressive. A lot of times it’s easy to lose the aggressive mindset when your biggest weapon is not firing.”
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Opelka will next play a baseliner in Jaume Munar or Jordan Thompson. The two-time ATP Tour titlist was pleased he was able to compete so well from the baseline, but he is also keen to bring all parts of his game to the court moving forward in the tournament.
“It definitely helps my confidence. Andrej Martin is a tough player, but I think it does cap out at a certain level, unfortunately. A guy like Jannik Sinner or a guy like Felix [Auger-Aliassime], it would have been a different scenario. It’s not something I want to rely on,” said Opelka, who is in second seed Daniil Medvedev’s section of the draw. “To beat a guy like Jannik here, I have to be serving well and playing well from the back and volleying well.
“I do like that the things that usually are on weren’t today and I still won and the things that usually I struggle with, it wasn’t the case today.”
Two Americans won five-setters on Monday. Steve Johnson came from two sets down to defeat countryman Frances Tiafoe 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 after three hours and 11 minutes to reach the second round on the Parisian clay for the fifth time.
Tommy Paul was on the opposite end of the spectrum, leading Christopher O’Connell two sets to none. The 24-year-old held off the Aussie’s spirited comeback in a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 10-8 triumph after three hours and 33 minutes. Paul will challenge Medvedev in the next round.
#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda arrived in Paris with momentum after lifting his first ATP Tour trophy on Saturday in Parma. The 20-year-old also made the fourth round at Roland Garros last year. But he fell against the man he defeated in the third round here in 2020. Spaniard Pedro Martinez ousted Korda 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to set a showdown against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.