Opelka Stands Tall, Sinks Brooksby For Dallas Title

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Opelka Stands Tall, Sinks Brooksby For Dallas Title

American produces serving clinic to capture third ATP Tour title

Reilly Opelka put on a serving clinic — even by his own lofty standards — to claim his third ATP Tour title at the Dallas Open.

The second-seeded American did not face a break point en route to the final, and saved the only one he faced Sunday against rapidly rising countryman Jenson Brooksby in a 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory to lift the trophy.

“I thought I played very well under pressure, especially against a great player like Jenson. He makes you very uncomfortable and he took me out of my comfort zone a lot of the match today,” Opelka said during the trophy ceremony. “I really had to play my best tennis to get by and I barely did.”

This is the second time Opelka has won this tournament. He also lifted the trophy in 2019 when the ATP 250 was held on Long Island and known as the New York Open. His other victory came two years ago in Delray Beach. 

It appeared Opelka’s service dominance at the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex on the campus of Southern Methodist University might come to an end against the baseline battler Brooksby. The fourth seed earned a break point at 1-1 in the first set and hit a perfect return deep in the court to put pressure on his 6’11” opponent.

But Opelka played tremendous defence before crushing a backhand down the line for a winner. That set the tone of the match for the 24-year-old, who did not face a break point the rest of the way in his one-hour, 52-minute triumph.

“I’m a big fan of his game, a big believer in him. He’s super young and he’s got a lot of tennis ahead of him still,” Opelka said of Brooksby. “The scary thing is he has a lot to even improve on and I think that’s why he’s a future Top 10 player and he’s going to be winning many titles for many years to come.”

Opelka played aggressively from the baseline when he needed to, frustrating Brooksby with his timely shotmaking and incredible movement for a player of his size. And like he did in the semi-finals against John Isner to end the longest tour-level singles tie-break in ATP Tour history (46 points, since 1990), Opelka completed his victory with a backhand passing shot from inside the court.

The champion won all 46 of his service games this week.

“It’s one thing to serve well and have a nice motion, hit your spots and be accurate. But guys guess, so you have to be a pitcher. You have to be thinking a lot,” Opelka said. “If they guess right, you’re in trouble, so you have to think, ‘Where might he be leaning? What patterns have i been giving him? How do I go against the grain here?’ There’s more to it than just having a good serve.”

World No. 54 Brooksby, who this week one year ago was still outside the Top 300 in the ATP Rankings, was trying to clinch his first ATP Tour title. The 21-year-old, who clawed past countryman Marcos Giron in a two-hour, 54-minute slugfest in the semi-finals, fell just short of lifting the trophy. He also reached the championship match in Newport last year.

“I thought I competed better and it’s definitely a really good week to build off of going into the future,” Brooksby said.

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