Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the U.S. Davis Cup Team
Reilly Opelka’s Davis Cup debut in Madrid
Last November — thanks to Team USA’s World Group Semifinal run in 2018 — the Americans scored an automatic berth into the newly designed Davis Cup Finals. At the time, first-year Captain Mardy Fish assembled a squad of rookies and veterans – including Reilly Opelka, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock. While Team USA fell in the Group stage, Reilly and Taylor gained valuable experience in the pressure-packed team format.
In Team USA’s opening loss to Canada, Opelka fell to Vasek Pospisil in two tiebreak sets. In the Americans’ victory over Italy, Reilly lost another tight battle with Fabio Fognini, after forcing a decider in set-2’s tiebreak.
- Vasek Pospisil -150- (CAN) def Reilly Opelka -36- (USA) | Score: 76(5) 76(7)
- Fabio Fognini -12- (ITA) def Reilly Opelka -36- (USA) | Score: 64 67(4) 63
In the late-night clash with the Italians, Taylor Fritz leveled the Tie with a come-from-behind victory over Matteo Berretti, before the tandem of Sam Querrey and Jack Sock clinched the win in 3-sets. Unfortunately, because Sam and Jack didn’t earn the win in straight-sets, Team USA failed to reach the Quarterfinals.
Additionally, the doubles decider ended at 4:04am – the latest finish in U.S. Davis Cup history. Only one match in tennis history ended later: Lleyton Hewitt’s 3rd-Round win over Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 Asutralian Open (4:33am).
Opelka earns first career Davis Cup victory
Needless to say, the two tight losses were tough to digest. But after top-shelf performances, Mardy didn’t think twice about bringing him back. Captain Fish invited Reilly to Hawaii for 2020’s Qualifier versus Uzbekistan, and the 6’11” Opelka didn’t disappoint. In Honolulu’s opening Rubber, Reilly owned Uzbekistan’s top talent Denis Istomin, earning his first career Davis Cup victory in straight sets.
Opelka is now 2-1 against Istomin
Opelka’s Victory wasn’t a lock coming into the weekend’s first match. The two first met in the championship match of 2018’s Chicago’s Oracle Challenger, where Istomin earned his 11th of 12 career Challenger titles. At the inaugural New York Open last February, the two split tiebreak sets before injury forced Istomin to retire in the third. Opelka went-on to capture his first ATP Singles title.
These guys played great today. First match was really impressive by Reilly. And Taylor, not knowing too much about his opponent, came out and played pretty impressive tennis. These guys keep getting better and better every time I see them live, and they’re building something special as far as the team is concerned. These guys, the youngsters [Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul] are all really, really close, genuinely. So it’s fun to sort of be alongside watching them build something.
Captain Mardy Fish after Day-1 in Honolulu
Reilly Opelka -38- (USA) | Announcer Introduction
Last month in Delray Beach, this 22-year-old defeated both Milos Raonic and Yoshihito Nishioka on the same day to capture his 2nd ATP Singles title. Last season, he upset 3-time Grand Slam Champion Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon to reach the 3rd Round of a Major for the first time – and by October, climbed to a career-high ranking of World #31, finishing the season with over 1-thousand aces. Competing in his first Davis Cup home Tie – From the United States, Reilly Opelka.
Denis Istomin -156- (UZB) | Announcer Introduction
At 33-years-old, he owns 2 ATP Tour Singles titles and 12 challenger titles. Last weekend, he reached his 20th career Challenger Final at the Oracle Pro Series event in Columbus, Ohio. Ranked as high as World #33, three years ago he earned the biggest win of his career. At the Australian Open, he defeated World #2 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the 2nd-Round. A proud recipient of the Davis Cup Commitment Award, this weekend he is competing in his 31st Davis Cup Tie. And owns 50 Davis Cup victories for his country. Here in Hawaii for the first time – from Uzbekistan, Denis Istomin.