February 23, 2020 / 6:34 PM / 6 months ago

Opelka fires 27 aces in beating Nishioka in Florida

(Reuters) - Towering American Reilly Opelka beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in three sets to win his second career ATP Tour title at the Delray Beach Open in Florida on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - First Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 21, 2020 - Reilly Opelka of the U.S. in action during the match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

The fourth-seeded Opelka clinched victory in style, pounding his 27th ace of the match down the center line for a 7-5 6-7(4) 6-2 triumph.

“I’m just really proud of the way I fought in the third set,” Opelka said. “I got an early break and I broke again. Physically I was feeling pretty good. If he broke me and we had to play more tennis, I was fine.”

Opelka won the first set after crushing a forehand at 6-5 to earn his third set point. A cross-court backhand passing shot that Nishioka couldn’t handle ended the set and sent Opelka, sprinting to his chair, smacking his chest in celebration.

Nishioka forced a tie-break in the second, which he won when Opelka sent a groundstroke long.

But the Japanese player double faulted in the first game of the third set to give Opelka the break and the 22-year-old American finished off the match with his big ace.

“It’s very tough to break his service games,” Nishioka said. “In the third set a little bit I lost my mind and maybe he saw it, he came out and tried to be a little bit aggressive. It worked. That was key in this game.”

Opelka had surprised Canada’s second-seeded Milos Raonic 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3 in their rain-delayed semi-final earlier on Sunday to set up the meeting with the rested Nishioka.

Nishioka had beaten France’s Ugo Humbert 1-6 6-4 6-0 on Saturday before rain washed out other matches at the Florida tournament.

Opelka’s only other title came a year ago in the New York Open.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; additional reporting by Andrew Both; editing by Toby Davis and Richard Pullin

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