Reilly Opelka earned one of the biggest wins of his career on Thursday, as he came back from a set down to defeat top seed Daniil Medvedev at the St. Petersburg Open. While Opelka’s big serve has found many fans from even among the top players, Opelka himself seems to be a fan of Medvedev’s game.
Opelka said he has been a fan of Medvedev’s from even before his incredible run at the 2019 US Open. This was the Open that made Medvedev a household name in tennis. “I’ve been a big fan of Dani for a while. Before the US Open, unlike most of the tennis fans,” Opelka said shortly after his win over the Russian. “I’ve always been a huge fan of his game, I still am.” The towering American player further praised Medvedev and said he was one of the best competitors on the ATP Tour.
“He’s one the guys I watch the most because he’s fun to watch. He doesn’t miss a ball. He competes harder than anyone. He’s tough as hell,” Opelka said.
How Reilly Opelka stunned Daniil Medvedev
Opelka’s big serve was off during the first set in their Round of 16 contest. Medvedev was very strong behind the serve throughout the match, but not when he needed to be. This cost him the match, eventually. The Russian won the opening set 6-2.
Opelka, however, showed his strength behind the serve as the match progressed and broke Medvedev once in each of the next two sets to prevail 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. It was a very hard-fought contest right up till the end.
That's one way to convert set point 🤩
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 15, 2020
Medvedev thus failed to defend his title at the St. Petersburg Open. In his opening match this year, he did not start as he should have and was forced to make a comeback against Richard Gasquet after dropping the first set.
A poor run of form for Medvedev
Medvedev’s form has seen a downward slide since he lost to Dominic Thiem in the US Open 2020 semi-final. He lost in his first match at the Hamburg Open, which was a warm-up event for the French Open 2020. At Roland Garros, he suffered a similar fate.
Medvedev lost in four sets in his Paris opener to Marton Fucsovics in what was an ill-tempered match from the Russian. He was slapped with fines at both the US Open and French Open for on-court outbursts.
Medvedev now needs to display the fighting spirit Opelka mentioned, to find his form again.