Reilly Opelka says Daniil Medvedev was "flawless" in Toronto final, claims the Russian may be the best returner in the world after Djokovic

Reilly Opelka (L) and Daniil Medvedev
Reilly Opelka (L) and Daniil Medvedev
Namit Kumar

Daniil Medvedev defeated Reilly Opelka comprehensively in the final of the 2021 National Bank Open on Sunday. Opelka had been the form player in Toronto leading up to the final, but Medvedev's superior returning and defense helped him prevail 6-4, 6-3.

It was still a good week for Opelka though, as he beat the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Roberto Bautista Agut and Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the summit clash. Speaking in a press conference on Sunday, the American suggested there was very little he could have done to change the result of the final given Medvedev's high level of play.

"He (Daniil Medvedev) was flawless," Reilly Opelka said. "I had one chance to break early. I don't think that would have changed much because he was in so many of my service games."

Opelka went on talk about the challenging conditions, before admitting that Medvedev dealt with them better. The 23-year-old made special mention of Medvedev's backhand and passing shots, which he believes the Russian executed "really well".

"It was a little windy and a little bit swirlier out there on the ball, so it was really tough to be powerful and be consistently powerful," Opelka said. "But even then, even when I hit some big shots, he countered well and it was very tough to disrupt him at all."
"He's very good with his opening-stance backhand, very good on the run, his passing shots are great," the American added. "All expected, but he really executed well."

Reilly Opelka further opined that Daniil Medvedev is one of the best returners in the world, which proved to be a big difference between the final and his semifinal win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

"Yeah, I mean, the conditions were definitely a lot different today," Opelka said. "It was definitely a lot windier, so it was hard to be effective on the serve, but Daniil is a much better returner than Stefanos."
"Medvedev is top three best returners in the world, you could say," he added. "I'd say especially for a big guy, maybe he's No. 2 behind Novak for like a server like myself, because he's tall. He can afford to stand far back, because he's lanky, you know. He has like a really long reach. He's got a good wingspan."

"My matches are such a fine line" - Reilly Opelka

Reilly Opelka
Reilly Opelka

During the course of the press conference, Reilly Opelka was asked about his expectations for the next Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, which kicks off on Monday. The American responded by highlighting the brutal scheduling of the tour, and also revealed he would be prioritising the US Open later this month.

"Yeah, the tour is brutal. I'm flying tonight, get into Cincy tomorrow," Opelka said. "It's an unforgiving sport we're in here now. It's hard to follow up weeks. The Big 3 have done it exceptionally well, but it's not easy to do."
"I don't really have much expectations for Cincinnati, to be honest, but I definitely want to emphasize the US Open and give it my best," he added.

Reilly Opelka went on to talk about how his matches often tread on a fine line, given his reliance on the serve. According to the American, he is just as likely to be locked in a tight encounter with a top player as he is to be taken the distance by someone ranked outside the top 100.

"I have lost to so many - my matches are such a fine line, you know," Opelka said. "I'm 6-all in the third - upside/downside of my game is I can be 6-all in the third with Medvedev, which I've been many times, and I can be 6-all in the third with a guy outside of the top 100."
"So that's the downside to me is, you know, the level, the discrepancy and level between me and those guys, it's extremely small," he added. "It's already small for anyone in general, but even for me it's always going to come down to a couple of points."

Edited by Musab Abid

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