- Reilly Opelka and Federico Delbonis will meet for the first time, in the Rome quarterfinals Friday (4 am EDT)
- Opelka, 23, is in his second Masters 1000 quarterfinal; it’s the first for 30-year-old Argentina Delbonis.
- Despite the 6-11 Opelka’s huge success on serve this week, Delbonis, a qualifier, remains the slight favorite
Federico Delbonis’s run from the qualifying to the Rome quarterfinals might seem like a fluke.
But the 30-year-old lefty from Argentina has been on a good roll.
Federico Delbonis vs Reilly Opelka Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
|[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG)||-1.5 (-115)||-159||O 25.5 (-109)|
|Reilly Opelka (USA)||-1.5 (-108)||+128||U 25.5 (-115)|
Odds as of May 13
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Through Monte Carlo, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome (with three successful runs through qualifying), Delbonis is 12-3.
He defeated Pablo Carreño Busta and Albert Ramos Viñolas on their own turf in Madrid.
And then Delbonis took care of Karen Khachanov, David Goffin and Félix Auger-Aliassime in succession in Rome.
American Recovering from COVID-19
Some six weeks ago, Opelka contracted COVID-19 in Florida after he left the Miami Open COVID-safe bubble
It hit him pretty hard.
“Definitely put me out completely for five days. And then I stayed home for another 10 or 11 days, at least,” he told the Associated Press. “Took about three or four weeks for me to feel like my energy was normal and to be able to train and practice four hours a day,”
Opelka made it to Madrid, but lost in the first round. So he came into Rome with just one clay-court match under his belt.
Winners of a Wide-Open Quarter
Delbonis and Opelka are long shots in a final eight that contains Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.
They were in by far the most vulnerable quarter of the draw. And they made the most of it.
The top seed in their section was Daniil Medvedev. The world No. 2’s disdain for red clay and everything encrusted with it is no secret.
Medvedev loses two more points, turns to supervisor Gerry Armstrong, who is sitting courtside.
‘Gerry, please default me, it would be better for everybody.’
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) May 12, 2021
Opportunity was going to knock in that section. These two were the ones who answered the door.
Federico Delbonis vs Reilly Opelka Head-to-Head
|30 (Oct. 5, 1990)||Age||23 (Aug. 28, 1997)|
|Azul, Argentina||Birthplace||St. Joseph, MI|
|2||Career ATP Singles Titles||2|
|No. 33 (May 9, 2016)||Career High Ranking||No. 31 (Aug. 28, 2019)|
|No. 80||Current Ranking||No. 47|
|$4,548,193||Career Prize Money||$2,295,579|
|14-9||2021 Won/Loss record||5-7|
Serve Stats off His Charts
At the ATP level coming into Rome, Opelka had won five career clay matches and lost 11.
And his travails haven’t been restricted to the clay. The 23-year-old American also snapped a six-match losing streak on all surfaces this week.
Opelka’s serving numbers have been off the charts in Rome compared to his career numbers on the dirt.
He’s picking up right where his fellow American giant John Isner left off when he reached the quarterfinals in Madrid.
In his career, the American has averaged about one break point against his serve every two service games. In 20 service games this week, Opelka has faced just two break points.
His career winning percentage on second-serve returns on clay is 40-percent. This week, it’s 48-percent.
Opelka came into Rome with a 22-percent success rate on break points on his opponent’s serve on clay. This week, he’s 6-for-8.
And, on the other side of the ledger, the player who has averaged almost exactly one ace per service game on the clay has average a smidgen under two aces per game this week.
There’s no reason for that to stop. He also has a positive record against lefties.
Opelka on Serve – and Return – in Rome
|Rd / Opponent||Aces / DFs||BPs Against/Converted||BPs Earned/Converted||2nd Serve Return Pts Won|
|R1 / Richard Gasquet||18 / 1||0 / 0||3 / 3||11/20 (55%)|
|R2 / Lorenzo Musetti||23 / 1||0 / 0||3 / 2||6/11 (55%)|
|R3 / Aslan Karatsev||18 / 1||2 / 0||2 / 1||8/21 (38%)|
Delbonis doesn’t have a ton of experience or success against the huge servers.
He once beat John Isner eons ago on clay, in a third-set tiebreak. And he defeated Ivo Karlovic once – on an injury retirement. He has never faced Milos Raonic – or Opelka.
Opelka as played just one tiebreak in his six previous sets. So while the -210 odds on there being at least one in the match are tempting, it would run counter to the American’s pattern this week. On the other hand, he’s probably due.
Best Bet: Opelka in two sets (+320)