LAS VEGAS, October 20, 2017
Six-foot, 11-inch Reilly Opelka took advantage of what he described as perfect court conditions to advance to the quarterfinals of the Las Vegas Tennis Open as the No. 8-seeded Floridian beat qualifier Jared Hiltzik, 7-6 (5), 6-4, at the ATP Challenger Tour $50,000 Men’s tournament taking place at the Fertitta Tennis Complex on the campus of UNLV.
“There is altitude and the courts are playing pretty fast,” said the 20-year-old Opelka. “They are using a Penn ball which tends to be a little more livelier than Wilson. The ball is jumping and it’s a condition that definitely promotes big serves here. It’s easy for everyone to hold.”
Opelka will next meet Britain’s Liam Broady, who scored a solid win over No. 2-seeded and fellow countryman Cameron Norrie by the same exact score at Opelka, 7-6 (5), 6-4, on Friday as the final eight spots have been determined in singles.
Opelka described Broady as a “scrappy lefty” who hits a lot of slice balls “and tries to make you play an extra ball.”
Down 5-4 with Hiltzik serving in the first-set tiebreaker, Opelka hit a nice backhand crosscourt winner to even things up and then served out the first set with an ace.
Opelka spent the summer playing regular ATP-level tournaments, but said “coming back down to the Challenger level” was just what he needed.
“I lost a ton of matches this summer, maybe five of them, 7-6 in a third set and I think four of them I had match points,” he said. “What could have been a great summer ended up being brutal for me. I haven’t had too any main-draw wins consecutively for a while. This is perfect and just where I need to be right now.”
Opelka is rooming this week with fellow ATP “Next Gen” player and quarterfinalist Stefan Kozlov and the pair are staying in a house 20 minutes away from the Strip and UNLV in Henderson.
“Last night was the first night we got out and had dinner on the Strip,” Opelka said, adding that fellow US-American Michael Mmoh has also joined them for some basketball watching and playing during the week.
Defending champion Sam Groth of Australia was forced to retire down 2-1 in the first set against qualifier Jan Choinski of Germany because of a hip flexor. Top-seeded Tennys Sandgren continued his strong play, beating Lucas Miedler of Austria, 7-5, 6-4.
RESULTS – OCTOBER 19, 2017
Singles – Second Round
 T. Sandgren (USA) def. L. Miedler (AUT) 7-5, 6-4
L. Broady (GBR) def.  C. Norrie (GBR) 7-6(5), 6-4
[Q] J. Choinski (GER) def.  S. Groth (AUS) 2-1 Retired
 R. Opelka (USA) def. [Q] J. Hiltzik (USA) 7-6(5), 6-4
Doubles – Quarterfinals
 B. Klein (GBR) / J. Salisbury (GBR) def. B. Kozlov (USA) / S. Kozlov (USA) 7-6(0), 4-6, 10-3
K. King (USA) / R. Roelofse (RSA) def. [WC] B. Lock (ZIM) / C. Lock (ZIM) 6-3, 7-5