Isner upset by Opelka in 4 tiebreakers at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – It was a bit like John Isner was looking at a mirror image on the net on Monday at the Australian Open, facing that rare guy who is actually a little longer than he can and smacking who almost serves as well.

And so it was that, although he beat more aces than his opponent, 47-40, yielded more total winners, 79-64, and ended with more general points, 147-142, Isner – for the first time in his career – succeeded not to defeat an American enemy during a Grand Slam tournament.

Reilly Opelka, who finished in 97th place, earned his first victory in a draw at one of the majors by the No. 9-placed Isner in four tiebreakers 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5).

"There are just a lot of things that you can not control, that is something I can identify with." I feel that I play well, my opponents think so. "And I expected that today, that I probably would not do too many balls, it serves too much, but I was hoping for him," said Opelka, a 21-year-old who is based in Florida. "I know it's uncomfortable for both of us."

The 33-year-old Isner was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year and started the day with a 9-0 record in the whole USA. matches at the Slams.

But he does not often approach someone with a similar profile: at 1.81 meters (6-foot-11) Opelka is 3 centimeters longer than Isner.

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

"It was useful to see him, but at the same time we are different. There are similarities, but the ball comes back a lot more than it does for him," said Opelka. "At least for now."

Because he is about ten years younger and from the same country, Opelka said about Isner: "Of course I looked up to him. He is now a top 15, top 20 of the world for a crazy long time."

Nevertheless, Opelka was hardly prepared to explain this outcome a kind of breakthrough. He thinks he still has enough to work on.

Instead, he saw it as a vehicle to prevent him from returning to the lower levels of tennis, such as the ITF Transition Tour, where Opelka called one tournament in this way: "I did not have balls, I had no courts. water. "

There were two moments Monday that both men were able to determine the outcome.

In the second tiebreaker, Isner advanced 6-4 and even played the set on a set each. But Opelka produced a forehand passing winner to clear the initial setpoint, opening a four-point run with a pair of aces and a backhand pass to take that set.

Then Isner took a break in the fourth set and was forced to force a fifth while he was 5-4 ahead. Until then, Opelka had not been able to break Isner's service.

"I was ready to play a fifth," Opelka said. "That's a bit of what I thought … I was lucky to take a break."

Perhaps that is a fair characterization. Isner did help, missing a backhand followed by three forehands.

"I did the whole race, fairly comfortably, a bit not characteristic," Isner said about a lost service game.

Opelka took the final – inevitable? – tiebreaker with the help of three aces, of which one with 227 km / h (141 mph) to finish the game.

For Isner, it is the second year in a row that he bowed in the opening round in Australia.

In 2018 he started the season with six consecutive losses before he turned things around and ended with two titles and a few quarter-finals-or-better impressions at majors.

"I was 0-6 last year, I'm on my way to 0-6, so we'll see if I can get on top of that." I am now 0-2, "said Isner, who lost his first game at Auckland, New Zealand, last week.

"The only thing I can do," he said, "is to continue to work."

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Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

John Isner from the United States reacts during his first round match against compatriot Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Reilly Opelka of the United States prepares for compatriot John Isner during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, January 14, 2019. (AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

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