Reilly OpelkaAmerican Tennis Player
Reilly Opelka is an American tennis player. He made his ATP Tour debut at the 2016 Men’s Clay Court Championships in Texas.
• Date of birth: 28 August 1997
• Age: 26 years old
• Place of birth: Michigan, USA
• Residence: Delray Beach, Florida, USA
• Country (sports): USA
• Height: 211cm / 6ft 11ins
• Weight: 102kg / 225lbs
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2015
• Career Prize Money: US$ 4,198,775
The 26-year-old was born in Michigan in the United States and began playing tennis when he was six years old.
Standing at 6ft 11ins (211cm), Opelka is level with Ivo Karlovic as the tallest-ever ATP-ranked player, and his powerful serve is a key aspect of his game.
He made his senior ATP Tour debut back in 2016 at the 2016 Men’s Clay Court Championships in Texas and enjoyed something of a breakthrough on the tour in 2018.
Opelka – who regularly serves in the low-140 mph range – claimed his first ATP Tour title at the New York Open in 2019 and followed that up with a second triumph at the Delray Beach Open in 2020.
In 2021, Opelka reached the fourth round of a grand slam tournament for the first time in his career, on home soil at the US Open.
So, what do we know about Reilly Opelka’s journey to becoming the talented tennis player he is today? This is his story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Reilly Opelka was born on 28 August 1997 in the city of St. Joseph, Michigan in the USA, to parents George and Lynne. He has a sister named Brenna.
Opelka moved to Palm Coast in Florida with his family when he was four years old and soon started playing tennis on a recreational basis. According to his profile page on the ATP Tour website, Reilly began hitting tennis balls when he was around six years old.
When he was nearly 13 years old, he, his mother, and sister moved to an apartment in Boca Raton when he enrolled in the USTA training programme. He then moved into USTA dorms when he was 15.
“My family’s really sacrificed for me, which I appreciate,” said Opelka, in an interview with The Boston Globe back in 2015. “My mom didn’t want to give me up at 12-and-a-half, I guess.”
He developed his game under the tutelage of former ATP professional player Tom Gullikson in Palm Coast. “Tom’s been just unbelievable to my whole family,” Reilly explains. “He’s always stayed interested in me, my game. He works with the USTA and I hit with him whenever he’s in Boca. I could not be more thankful for everything he’s done.”
Opelka’s favourite surface is clay. His favourite shot is the overhead and his favourite tournaments are the US Open and Houston.
Opelka was a strong junior player and earned a career-high junior ranking of number four in the world back in July 2015.
The pinnacle of his junior career came in the summer of 2015, when he won the boys’ singles tournament at Wimbledon, defeating Mikael Ymer 7-6 6-4 in the final at SW19.
He hit 15 aces in the final en route to victory and said afterwards: “I served really well. Every time I felt there could have been a pressure moment, at 30-all, or 15-30, I came up with an ace or a service winner.”
Opelka made his senior ATP Tour debut at the 2016 US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Texas, where he lost to fifth seed Sam Querrey.
Later in the year, Opelka won his first three career ATP Tour matches en route to reaching the semi-finals at the Atlanta Open. He lost in the semis against fellow countryman John Isner.
Opelka enjoyed something of a breakthrough year in 2018. He won three ATP Challenger titles and reached the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open on the ATP Tour.
He won his first ATP Tour title the following year in February 2019 at the New York Open when he was 21 years old. He beat Canada’s Brayden Schnur in the final, 6-1 6-7 (7) 7-6 (7).
“This [title] is definitely what I’m most proud of,” said Opelka afterwards. “I was tough mentally, especially losing a lot of first sets this week, and my first serve really helped me out. I was able to play clutch in those big moments. It feels really good to win this event. I didn’t think it was going to come this soon, to be honest.”
Rise Up The Rankings
At Wimbledon 2019, Opelka made it to the third round of a grand slam for the first time in his career, before losing to Milos Raonic in straight sets in round three.
He reached the semi-finals of the Atlanta Open in July 2019, where he lost to Alex De Minaur in three sets.
Opelka collected his second career ATP title at the Delray Beach Open in February 2020. He beat the likes of Milos Raonic and Ernests Gulbis en route to the final, where he defeated Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in three sets.
Speaking after winning the title on home soil, Opelka said: “I love playing at home. I have a house not far from here, 10 minutes. So I base here, I’ve been here the past 10 years, so I’m very comfortable,” Opelka said. “It’s going to be an event I play a lot the rest of my career just because I plan on staying in South Florida. I love playing in Delray.”
After reaching the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time in his career at the 2021 US Open, Opelka collected his next two titles in 2022.
In February 2022, he won his third career ATP Tour title at the Dallas Open, defeating Jenson Brooksby in straight sets in the final.
He then followed that success up with another title in April 2022, this time at the Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston. He defeated fellow American John Isner in the final, 6-3, 7-6.
“He was my idol growing up as a kid, and before I even met him, I liked him,” Opelka said of Isner after the final. “But since we’ve become such good friends and spent so much time on Tour, I like him even more now. 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.”
Earnings And Prize Money
As of July 2022, Reilly Opelka has earned a total of US$ 4,198,775 in total prize money, combined for both singles and doubles.
Life Away From The Court
Opelka’s best friends on the Tour are Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, according to his ATP profile page.
His idols while growing up were Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner and former NBA star Tracy McGrady.
He enjoys playing pick-up basketball games on tour and his favourite active NBA players are Jimmy Butler and Russell Westbrook.
Away from tennis, he has passions for art and fashion. He enjoys attending art galleries and fashion shows. He has previously said that he hopes to work in the fashion industry following his tennis career.
What Have Others Said?
John Isner, speaking after losing to Opelka in the 2022 US Men’s Clay Court Championships: “We’ve played a handful of times and you keep on beating me. I hate you for that! 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.”
Rafael Nadal, speaking about facing Opelka in the semi-finals of the Italian Open in 2021: “[I will face] a big chance against a player [Opelka] who has almost an unreturnable serve. He is playing well. I need to be very focused with my serve and then try to be ready to accept and be on the return. That is what I am looking for.”