Reilly Opelka is looking to get back on schedule now that he's got a tour calendar again.
The ATP returns this week as the Western and Southern Open, relocated to New York, gets underway. It will be followed by the US Open, with Rome, Hamburg, and the French Open among the clay-court events to follow suit in September.
Opelka, who is ranked No.39 and had just won the Delray Beach Open when competition was suspended five months ago, is also eager to return. The 22-year-old says he found it tough to practice during the break from competition.
"For a long while I wasn’t mentally sharp at all, because we had no idea when we’d get to play again," he told Flagler Live. "I was just so not motivated, because we had no idea if we’d play again this year, or when."
As the tour began to announce its rescheduled events, Opelka regained his motivation, and is now inside the US Open's 'bubble' in New York. The big-serving American is the tallest player on the men's tour at 6' 11'' and, according to his coach, has worked especially hard on his return during this period.
"I’m super excited we actually have, like, a real schedule finally. We’re playing these two tournaments in New York, then onto the clay and Europe, then some indoor tournaments," Opelka said.
Previously, Opelka had heavily criticized the ATP's approach during the suspension.
"I think I was just being honest, because there was no communication, no information at all given to us players," he said.
As an international sport with players and tournaments scattered across continents, professional tennis has experienced some significant hurdles starting back during the coronavirus pandemic. But Opelka says it could have happened sooner, as with other sports like golf or basketball.
"Everyone else came back before us, when we’re... standing 20 feet away from the person we’re playing. I don’t know why it took tennis so long to return," he said.
Opelka plays a qualifier in the first round of Cincinnati.