Tennis: Opelka stuns third seed Tsitsipas to reach Toronto final, will meet top seed Medvedev

Reilly Opelka waves to fans after defeating Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS
Russian Daniil Medvedev making a backhand return to John Isner of the US in their ATP Toronto Masters semi-final on Aug 14, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TORONTO, CANADA (AFP) - Reilly Opelka broke new ground on Saturday (Aug 14), edging third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to reach the final of the ATP Toronto Masters.

The towering American, who turns 24 this month, will play on Sunday in the first Masters final of his career, taking on top-seeded Daniil Medvedev, who dominated the big-hitting John Isner 6-2, 6-2.

With the major part of his game mis-firing, the 36-year-old American was an easy target for Medvedev, the losing 2019 finalist to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

Medvedev will play for his fourth trophy of the season after helping Russia to the ATP Cup in Australia and claiming the honours at Marseille and Mallorca.

He takes on another American two-metre-plus giant in Opelka, who overcame Tsitsipas with 46 winners to 23 for the Greek. He blasted 17 aces in the match lasting two and a half hours to notch his first victory over a top-five opponent.

"I've played great from the first round against a lot of adversity," said Opelka, who ousted Australian Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

"There are no easy draws at Masters 1000s, every match is a nightmare.

"But I've got a lot of confidence going and I've carried it through each match. I'm putting pressure on guys with my serve and they can feel it. They know I won't give many free points away on my serve."

Tsitsipas held his own until late in the third set, when Opelka broke for a 4-3 lead.

The American finished off the upset three games later with an overhead smash on his first match point.

"He prevailed, it just didn't go my way," Tsitsipas said.

"But there is hope for next time, it's all right.

"I struggled with my serve, it was obvious. When you get no rhythm it's difficult. It silently ruins your game.

"There was nothing I was afraid of today, but I was missing shots in the rallies and missing opportunities. That's what cost me in the end."

Tsitsipas, ranked third in the world behind Novak Djokovic and Medvedev, still leads the ATP with 45 match wins this season, with Djokovic trailing on 36.

Medvedev cannot fault his current form: "I'm really happy with the win. I had very few unforced errors (seven). I'm pleased with my game in this moment.

"I feel I'm playing better and better leading to the US Open."

Isner's game was off the boil and Medvedev took full advantage.

"He was not serving like usual and I had to take my opportunities, try and break as much as I could," Medvedev said. "I stayed focused and managed to do that."

The Russian posted 20 winners to Isner's 20 unforced errors, breaking the American four times.

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