Reilly Opelka reaches first Masters semifinal in Rome

Big-serving American Reilly Opelka referred to as it “a fluke” after reaching his first Masters semifinal with a 7-5, 7-6 (2) win over Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis on the Italian Open on Friday. Not beforehand identified for his clay-court tennis, the 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka overwhelmed Delbonis with 18 aces to report his fourth straight-set win of the week.

“I’m surprised. Clay is not really my thing — not much of an American thing,” Opelka stated. “It’s probably just a fluke. But I’m on with it,” he added.

Opelka additionally saved all 4 break factors he confronted. But it wasn’t simply his serve that made the distinction. The Forty seventh-ranked Opelka hit a fragile slice volley drop-shot winner in the ultimate sport earlier than the tiebreaker after which produced a tough backhand cross-court passing shot to arrange the one match level he wanted. He entered Rome on a six-match shedding streak that included coping with a bout of Covid-19.

“I wish I could use that as an excuse but the first 10 weeks of the year I just didn’t play well. It wasn’t Covid-related at all,” Opelka said. “Obviously after you lose eight weeks in a row, the one thing you want to do is practice — not get Covid and be stuck inside for two and a half weeks. But I guess it worked out,” he added.

Opelka’s semifinal opponent can be both nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or 2017 winner Alexander Zverev.

In the ladies’s event, Petra Martic turned the first semifinalist with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Jessica Pegula. Martic, who not too long ago employed 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone as her coach, will face both 2019 Rome champion Karolina Pliskova or 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko for a spot in the ultimate.

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