Rafael Nadal vs Reilly Opelka: Rome Masters 2021 Semi-Finals: Prediction | Preview | Stats
'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal takes on the high-flying World number 47 Reilly Opelka in a scintillating semi-final at the Rome Masters 2021.
Rafael Nadal vs Reilly Opelka: Rome Masters Preview
Rafael Nadal got a perfect revenge victory against the 6th seed Alexander Zverev beating him 6-3 6-4 in 2 hours in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters. The Spaniard utilized his drop shot cleverly catching Sascha on the wrong foot most of the times.
The King of Clay did not commit a single double fault, grabbed 79% of his second-serve points, and saved a whopping 9 out of 10 breakpoints. The German struggled with his second serve winning only 40% of points on it.
It was Rafa's first win against Zverev after losing three matches in a row in straight sets each. He also successfully ended Sascha's 7-match winning streak on clay.
“I am happy, I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to, it is an important victory for me against a great player," remarked Nadal pleased with his pulsating performance against the in-form Zverev in the quarterfinals.
On the other hand, Reilly Opelka used his booming big serve to good effect outlasting the Argentinian Federico Delbonis 7-5 7-6(2) in the quarters. The American clinched 80% of his first-serve points, fired 18 aces, pounded 41 winners, and also saved all 4 breakpoints.
Nadal vs Opelka: Head to Head Record
This is the first-ever clash between Nadal and Opelka on the ATP Tour.
Rafael Nadal vs Reilly Opelka: Rome Masters Live Stream & Highlights
Nadal vs Opelka: Rome Masters: Key Insights
- Rafael Nadal is playing his 12th semifinal in Rome. He has a perfect win-loss record of 11-0.
- Reilly Opelka is yet to drop a set in the tournament after four straight-set victories.
- The Spaniard is the defending champion and is aiming to lift his 10th trophy at the Italian capital.
- Opelka has hit the highest number of aces (77) in the ATP-1000 Rome Masters.
- Nadal will be featuring in his landmark 500th match on the red dirt against Opelka.
- The American has not dropped his serve in Rome and has saved 100% of his breakpoints.
- If Opelka wins against Nadal, he will break into the top 30 of the ATP rankings for the first time in his career.
Rafael Nadal vs Reilly Opelka: Game Analysis
Rafa had an injury scare after stumbling down the line while retrieving a shot against Zverev. He will also be concerned after winning only 58% of points on his first serve against Sascha.
Standing at an imposing height of 6'11", Opelka is a giant in similar kind of big-servers such as John Isner and Sam Querrey who have troubled Nadal in the past. The American will bank on his first-serve to get a lot of free points and aim for consistency in his returns.
Before arriving in Rome, Reilly Opelka had lost six matches in a row. But, the World number 47 has made a terrific turnaround despite not being known for his clay-court exploits. His win-loss record on the red dirt at the start of 2021 was a dismal 2-10.
Nadal has made smart changes to his game after the quarterfinal defeat to Zverev in the Madrid Open. The Spaniard has targeted the centre of the court with his deep forehand and a better second serve.
Though he can struggle a bit when his opponents play aggressively from the baseline, the 20-time grand slam champion has managed to unsettle them with his well-timed topspin backhand passing shots.
The slow conditions have suited Rafa's patient style and he has pounced on the right opportunities to grab crucial points.
Reilly Opelka will have to win more than 80% of points on his first serve to upset the King of Clay. He needs to use his express pace first-serves of more than 140 miles per hour to do the job.
The difference could be decided by how well both the players serve. Opelka will look to keep the rallies short with his big serve while Nadal will heavily on his defensive prowess and clever variation of pace in shotmaking.
The Spaniard plays the big matches very well in Rome and his immense experience and raw power could see him go through to another ATP-1000 final at the eternal city.
Prediction - Rafael Nadal to win in three sets against Reilly Opelka in the Semifinal tie of the Rome Masters 2021
Featured Image Credits - REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane