DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Reilly Opelka is more local than any player in the draw this week at the Delray Beach Open. As a Delray resident, Opelka's house has become headquarters for the American tennis contingent, and he's feeling right at home on stadium court.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old reached the quarterfinals after a 6-3, 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald. The match was nearly perfect for the world No. 54.
"This was close to it," he said. "It doesn't look like it, but I break serve in the first game of each set and I get to just kind of stay on the accelerator and focus on my own serve. And the match was done like that."
Opelka nearly had another American to face in his next round, but Ryan Harrison lost a third-set tiebreaker to South Korean's Soon-woo Kwon. Instead, Opelka will get to spend more time off the court with his compatriots. He's played host so far to Tommy Paul, Taylor Fritz, Stefan Kozlov and Frances Tiafoe.
"I always have a lot of people over at my house. I don't like being alone," Opelka said. "So that's always fun, having four or five of my friends over. It just feels like normal."
Like Tiafoe, Opelka is trying to get his match legs under him after a slow start to 2020. He was 1-4 going into Delray, getting his sole win in New York last week where he was the defending champion ("That week wasn't a make or break for me at all," he said.)
While you'd expect indoor courts to suit the 6'11" big server, the Floridian prefers to play in the heat.
"I like playing when it's hot; the balls are actually a lot faster," Opelka said. "New York was chilly. It was cold inside, the balls didn't move so much. Here it's significantly a lot faster, so I like that a lot better."
As much as Opelka would want to win it all at home, he has his mind focused on the long game.
"My long-term goal is to contend for a Grand Slam title. I don't see that happening necessarily this year," he said. "I've got a lot of improvements to make."