LOS ANGELES: Reilly Opelka saved six match points and blasted 43 aces to hand John Isner another crushing loss as he stunned the top seed 6-7(8) 7-6(14) 7-6(4) in the semi-finals of the New York Open on Saturday.
Opelka had delivered a similar tough defeat to fellow American Isner in the opening round of the Australian Open last month when he edged out a four-set win with each set finishing in a tiebreak.
The two big servers battled in another grudge match, with Isner falling short despite 38 aces of his own. Their combined 81 aces is a new ATP Tour record in a three-set match.
The 21-year-old Opelka will pursue his first career singles title against Brayden Schnur who reached the final by upending sixth seed Sam Querrey 7-6(7) 4-6 6-3.
The Canadian Schnur had never won an ATP Tour main draw match before this week, but the qualifier saved five set points in the opening set and kept his unlikely run intact.
“It’s an extremely big moment for me. These last few days have been unbelievable,” Schnur told reporters.
“I was one of the last guys to get into qualifying and my coach said to just see what happens. I think I’ve turned a lot of heads this week and am on the come-up.”
Schnur, the 154th-ranked player in the world, won two qualifying matches just to get into the tournament.
After winning the opening set from Querrey, Schnur appeared to be facing a letdown. He had a break point chance to lead 4-0 but ultimately succumbed to unforced errors that allowed his American opponent to take control and level the match.
Schnur regrouped with an early break to lead 2-0 in the deciding set and ultimately ended the match after one hour and 54 minutes.