Reilly Opelka clinched the historic tie-break to beat John Isner in the Dallas Open semifinals on Saturday.
In the longest tie-break in a tour-level match since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990, Opelka won a 24-22 marathon to edge his compatriot.
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On his eighth match point, Opelka’s mini-break ended a run of 26 straight points on serve. He saved 10 set points before that to win 7-6(7), 7-6(22).
A truly insane tie-break to end this clash 😮 @ReillyOpelka saves 🔟 set points before ousting Isner 7-6(7) 7-6(22) to reach the final in Dallas.#DALOpen pic.twitter.com/z6Ca7n4rz3
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 13, 2022
“I lost track,” Opelka said when asked to describe the tie-break, referring to the unprecedented seven changes of end.
“At one point it was 21-all… that’s something I’ve never seen before, but if it was going to happen, it certainly would have been in this match.”
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“It just shows how clutch he is,” he said of Isner’s effort.
Before Saturday evening, the longest tie-break had lasted 38 points.
That has happened on seven occasions, most recently in Auckland in 2020, when Leonardo Mayer took a 20/18 tie-break against Marco Cecchinato.
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Opelka and Isner have now played 12 consecutive tie-break sets in their head-to-head matches, with the former winning their past four meetings to improve to 4-1 in the matchup.
There have been no breaks of serve in their past 98 games.
Opelka fired 39 aces in the match, a two-sets record since the stat was first kept in 1991, and not far shy of the record 45 aces in a best-of-three match.
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He is yet to face a break point in Dallas.
Isner tallied 21 aces of his own, and both men won more than 85 per cent of their first-serve points in a match that did not see a break point.
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Opelka moves on to his fourth tour-level final with the win.