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Rafael Nadal vs. Reilly Opelka – What happened in their first match?

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Reilly Opelka was among the players to beat in the last two weeks. The giant American claimed the crown in Dallas following tight wins over John Isner and Jenson Brooksby and reached the title clash in Delray Beach. Cameron Norrie ended Opelka’s streak after beating him in two tight tie breaks, with both players traveling to Acapulco for the ATP 500 event.

By the draw’s will, Opelka faces the 21-time Major champion Rafael Nadal in the first round, facing the legend for the second time after Rome last year. Rafa and Reilly battled in the Foro Italico semi-final last May, and the Spaniard earned a 6-4, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 32 minutes to find himself in the 12th Rome Masters semi-final.

ALSO READ: Young Rafael Nadal: ‘I have to raise my level to win Wimbledon’

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Opelka played on a high level that week to enter the last four, where he failed to challenge the king of clay and reach at least one tie break. Nadal endured one challenging game and delivered one break in each set to emerge at the top, beating the American in the more extended exchanges to sail into the title clash.

Rafael Nadal will face Reilly Opelka in the Acapulco first round.
Facing the ultimate challenge, Rafa saved four break points at 1-2 in the opener with winners and avoided an early setback. Gathering a boost, Nadal broke Opelka in game five when the lower-ranked player sprayed a forehand error.

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The Spaniard held with a forehand slice winner for a 4-2 advantage and a boost. The American had to dig deep in the next one, struggling to win easy points and facing three break chances. Rafa failed to convert any, and Reilly remained within one break deficit to extend his opportunities.

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In game eight, the Spaniard held at love with a service winner and closed the opener with another perfect hold for 6-4 after 50 minutes. Opelka held at 15 in the second set’s opening game thanks to a service winner, and Nadal did the same for 1-1.

In the third game, the American sent a backhand long to propel the Spaniard in front, and Rafa held at love to open a 3-1 gap and move closer to the finish line. Nadal grabbed the sixth game at love for 4-2, and Opelka followed that pace to remain within one break deficit.

Rafa fired a service winner in game eight to secure a 5-3 advantage and served for the victory in game ten. From 30-15 down, Nadal claimed three straight points to move over the top and advance into his 12th Rome Open final since debuting in 2005.

Rafa has lost only two matches in Acapulco, the first to Sam Querrey in the 2017 title clash and the second against Nick Kyrgios two years later after squandering match points.

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