Junior Wimbledon Champion Reilly Opelka on his way back from injury - UBITENNIS
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Junior Wimbledon Champion Reilly Opelka on his way back from injury

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The 6’10 Opelka is currently returning to the pro circuit after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul are two young Americans who have been tearing up the ATP ranks, with both qualifying for the Acapulco 500 event this week. Both were junior Grand Slam champions last season, but there was a third American who took a junior Grand Slam in 2015, Reilly Opelka. 

 

Opelka won the Wimbledon Boys Singles last year, defeating Fritz on the way to the final, where he beat Mikael Ymer, the younger brother of Elias Ymer. But whilst Fritz,Paul, and recently Noah Rubin, have all been climbing the professional rank things have not been quite so easy for Opelka.

The 6’10 eighteen year-old suffered a foot injury shortly after his Wimbledon triumph, and played with it undiagnosed through the US Open Boys Singles, and a bunch of American Challengers as he tried to kick-start his professional career. The pain remained however, and eventually Opelka visited a specialist, who diagnosed a stress fracture. “It kept getting worse after that, and it really got bad during the [US] Open” Opelka on the injury.

Opelka made his first tournament appearance of 2016 at a Futures event in Florida last week, winning a match before bowing out in the second round.

The ATP website lists Opelka at 6’10 or 208cm, just short of the tallest player in tennis Ivo Karlovic, whom the ATP lists as 6’11 and 211cm. Opelka is close friends with Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz, having trained with and teamed up with both as double partners in Challenger events.

 

 

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Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah

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Hamad Medjedovic edged past Luca Van Assche 4-2 2-4 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 to move to 2-0 In Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah one day after winning a marathon five-set match against Alex Michelsen. 

 

Medjedovic broke serve in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. He held serve and saved two break points in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2. 

Van Assche saved three break points at 2-2 before breaking serve in the sixth game  with a running forehand pass to seal the second set 4-2. 

Medjedovic earned a break point in the first game of the third set, when Van Assche made a double fault. Van Assche saved them to hold on his serve. Both players held on serve en route to a tie-break. Van Assche raced out to a 5-1 lead. Medjedovic won three consecutive points to claw his way back to 4-5. Van Assche earned three set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6, but Medjedovic won the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7. 

Medjedovic left the court for nine minutes for a bathroom break. 

Medjedovic broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. When he was serving out the match, he saved three break points as he closed out the win with two unreturned serves. 

“For sure the tie-break changed a lot of things in this match. He had three set points. I stayed focused on the important points. I was consistent, hitting the ball hard, and I am glad that I won the tie-break”, said Medjedovic. 

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Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah

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Jordan’s wild card Abdullah Shelbayh beat world number 97 Alex Michelsen 4-2 1-4 4-0 4-0 to clinch his fourth top 100 win. Shelbayh moves to 1-1 in Red Group. 

 

Shelbayh hit 26 winners, including seven aces. The Asian player will face Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic in his third round robin match. 

Shelbayh earned the first break in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. The wild card held his next two service games at 30 to close out the first set 4-2. 

Michelsen, who reached the ATP 250 final in Newport last summer, broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Shelbayh made a backhand error. 

Michelsen earned a break point in the first game of the third set, but Shelbayh saved it with an ace. The Jordanan player held serve before breaking serve to close out the third set 4-0. Shelbayh won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the fourth set 4-0. 

“Having the opportunity to play here now to finish here, I could not ask for a better end to the year. I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I have been receiving already, throughout the year and from the Arab world especially. It makes me happy to represent my country. There is some pressure but you feel like it’s good pressure to have on you shoulders when you are representing your country and the region you come from”,said Shelbayh. 

Shelbayh improved his ATP ranking from world 470 to 185. His tennis idol is Rafael Nadal. Shelbayh has trained at the Rafa Nadal for more than five years. Toni Nadal flew to Jordan when Shelbayh was 13 years old to recruit him to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He became the first Jordanan player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match last April against Elias Ymer in Banja Luka. 

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Arthur Fils eases past Flavio Cobolli to move to 2-0 at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah

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World number 36 Arthur Fils eased past Flavio Cobolli 4-1 4-2 4-2 in 59 minutes to move to 2-0 in Green Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. Fils won 72% of his first service points and fired five aces. 

 

Fils saved a break point in the first game on the deciding point. The Frenchman broke serve in the second game and rallied from 0-30 down to hold serve in the third game. 

Fils served out the first set 4-1 with a hold at love. 

Cobolli made a double fault at 30-30 in the first game of the second set, but Fils broke serve when Cobolli hit his backhand into the net. 

Cobolli saved a break point with an ace on the deciding point in the third game. Fils won his next two service games with ease to seal the second set 4-2. The Frenchman dropped two points on serve in the second set.

Fils earned an early break in the first game of the third set. Cobolli broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Fils broke for the second time at love in the third game with a backhand down the line return winner and sealed the win on his second match point. 

Fils, who beat Luca Nardi in five sets in his opening match, will face Dominic Stricker in his third round-robin match. 

“I played very nice today. I served very good, and I was moving well on the court, so I am very happy with it. Tomorrow I have a good match against a great opponent. He already beat me once this year, so let’s what I can do”, said Arthur Fils. 

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