Fixture: Matteo Berrettini vs Reilly Opelka
Date: 25 August 2020
Tournament: Western & Southern Open 2020
Round: Round of 16
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $4,674,780
Match timing: 3.30 pm EDT, 1 am IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Ten 2
Matteo Berrettini vs Reilly Opelka preview
Matteo Berrettini kicked off his post-lockdown season in hard-fought fashion, narrowly beating World No. 100 Emil Ruusuvuori to make the Round of 16 stage of the Western & Southern Open. Up against a fine returner in his Finnish opponent, the World No. 8 needed five match points before finally winning the decider 7-5.
With an 83% winning rate on the shot, Berrettini's first serve has been his biggest weapon in what has been a breakout 52-week period. The hard-hitting Italian managed to reach his first Major semifinal at the 2019 US Open, where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
Berrettini started 2020 surrounded by plenty of expectations, some of which were dashed when he was shocked in the first round of the Australian Open by American Tennys Sandgren. The tour was subsequently suspended due to the global health crisis, but that didn't stop Berrettini from getting in a fair share of match practice.
The Italian won the first edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a close final. He would also go on to reach the final of the Bett1 Aces Open on grass, where he lost to Dominic Thiem in three tight sets.
Berrettini's opponent, Reilly Opelka, has had a good season so far. The American won his second career title at the 2020 Delray Beach Open, right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Opelka then compiled an 8-4 W-L record in exhibition matches during the lockdown. In his round of 32 match against Diego Schwartzman, the big-serving giant hammered 13 aces and returned with conviction when it mattered, to clinch a surprisingly routine win.
Matteo Berrettini vs Reilly Opelka head-to-head
The 24-year-old Matteo Berrettini has never met the American Next-Gen star Reilly Opelka on the tour before, so the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Matteo Berrettini vs Reilly Opelka prediction
The pair's meeting at the Round of 16 stage looks set to be an interesting match-up, with very little separating the two men. Both the Italian and the American have a big serve, and they look to shorten the rally with their big forehand whenever they get the chance.
However, the World No. 39 Opelka happens to have a better backhand than Matteo Berrettini, which could come in handy during the crosscourt exchanges. Opelka will also look to exploit the World No. 8's weaker wing with his serve and inside-out forehand.
Opelka has shown a welcome improvement in his ground game at the Western & Southern Open, winning a higher percentage of first and second return points than usual in both of his wins. That could be a deciding factor in what will be a high-stakes match at New York.
Prediction: Reilly Opelka to win in straight sets.Published 25 Aug 2020, 13:42 IST