Nearly three hours, almost 50 combined aces and not a break of serve in sight: fifth seed Taylor Fritz battled to the brink against Reilly Opelka to win a 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4) epic on Friday and book a place into the Truist Atlanta Open semi-finals.
Fritz is into his fourth semi-final of the season, and his second in as many weeks after reaching the last four in Los Cabos. Opelka saved two match points in a nail biting second-set to take them the distance, but Fritz held his nerve to take down the fourth seed.
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“We had plans to have dinner last night, and we were talking all day this morning before the match,” Fritz said of playing good friend Opelka. “It’s all love… We know we’re going to play each other so many more times. We’re normal before the match too, making jokes going down in the elevator heading down to the courts before the match, and then we go back to normal after the match.”
Fritz improved to 5-1 in his ATP Head2Head over Opelka after winning 91 per cent (62/68) of first-serve points in the match. The two big servers kept the points short and played first-strike tennis, with Opelka saving all four break points he faced – including two match points in the second set. Fritz, who didn’t face a break point, claimed the lone mini-break in the third set to close out the victory after two hours and 55 minutes.
Fritz will next face five-time champion John Isner after the sixth seed overcame Australian Christopher O’Connell 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-4 in a rain-interrupted match. O’Connell stunned second seed Jannik Sinner to reach his first tour-level quarter-final. However, Isner fired 30 aces to end the 27-year-old’s run and advance in two hours and 37 minutes
#NextGenATP Brandon Nakashima also advanced to the semi-finals with a 7-6(5), 7-5 victory over Jordan Thompson. The 19-year-old reached his first tour-level final last week in Los Cabos, and is now into his second career semi-final in Atlanta.
Nakashima will take on Emil Ruusuvuori after the 22-year-old Finn produced an incredible performance in his 7-6(1), 6-3 upset over third seed Cameron Norrie. Ruusuvuori won 86 per cent (36/42), fired seven aces and broke the Los Cabos champion twice en route to his second career semi-final, and his first of the season.