Big servers Isner and Opelka organize the all-American final in Houston | Taiwan News

HOUSTON (AP) — American greats John Isner and Reilly Opelka joke about being “service bots” and their similar styles of play will be on display against each other in the U.S. Dirt Championship final. beaten male.

Fourth-seeded Isner, who won the title from Houston in 2013, hit 17 aces on Saturday to knock out defending champion Cristian Garin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals. Third-seeded Opelka collected 21 aces while beating Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5.

The final Sunday will be the sixth career meeting between Opelka, 24, listed by the ATP at 6-foot-11, and Isner, 36, listed at 6-10.

Opelka leads 4-1 head to head, with four straight wins.

“When guys like Reilly and I shut their horns,” Isner said, “it’s going to be a tiebreaker.”

Talk about an understatement.

The last 12 sets they have contested have all gone to ties, including one Isner called “ridiculous” on Saturday. That’s because he improved to 24-22 in the semifinals in Dallas in February – the longest tiebreaker in an ATP match since 1990. Opelka notched 39 aces in that victory, 18 more than Isner.

Isner has 71 aces this week after playing three consecutive three-setters, breaking his own tournament record of 64 aces, which he set in 2013.

“Clay is a good surface for guys like Reilly and me,” Isner said. “Our service is good anywhere. In my opinion, we don’t need a fast court to hold serve. And we both maybe prefer a bit slower court, to get into the points and give us time to finish for the shots. Faster courts make this much more difficult.

This is his first tour-level clay final since Houston nine years ago and his first final on any surface since on the hard courts of Atlanta in August 2021.

Opelka, meanwhile, played in his third ATP Finals this season; only 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has more, four.

This is the first tour-level final on a surface other than hard courts for Opelka, who are ranked 18th in the world.

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