He had all the ingredients for it. Opelka and Isner, Isner and Opelka. Two of the most imposing physicists on the ATP circuit and, boosted by this, two of the most fearsome serves. 2,617 have come out of the racket of the first aces; from that of the second, 12 years older, 13,217. In the semifinals of the ATP in Dallas, played during the early hours of Saturday to Sunday, they were 39 and 21, respectively. Reilly came close to his record in a three-set match (45) and the two players won more than 85% of their first serve points.
These are some of the reasons that allow us to understand what happened, which is the history of tennis. Opelka and Isner, with victory for the former, who will face Jenson Brooksby or Marcos Giron in the tournament final, put their names to tie-break longest in the history of the ATP Tour, which started as such in 1990. 24 to 22, 46 points, to reach a 7-6(7), 7-6(22) final for posterity. With the signature of Reilly included, who wanted to leave even more of a mark on a single match sheet.
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It is not news to them. Neither separately nor jointly. Both are synonymous with a long and decanted shock at the limits. In his history of direct confrontations, well, an imposing string of decided sets is identified in sudden death. Exactly 13 of the 15 they have played in five games. All of them, in a row, like the 98 games that both players accumulate without breaking serve. Dallas, in a matchup lasting two hours and one minute, was no exception.
The sequence that goes directly into the story is as follows: four mini breaks in the first five points, match point saved by Opelka after 8-8, point after point for the server and final touch of grace for the giant of 2.11 meters. The tie-breaker longest in ATP history, although not in tennis history, whose honors go to Balleret and Couillard (36-34 in 2013, at ITF level). The tie-breaker that exhausted the tennis player with the longest game in history, that Isner-Mahut that the American took after 183 games and three game days (11 hours, 6 minutes and 23 seconds).