Ex-Kevin Anderson coach: Reilly Opelka played great versus Rafael Nadal on slow hard

Coach Neville Godwin thinks Reilly Opelka has what it takes to be a top-10 player and he thinks the American’s performance versus Rafael Nadal from earlier this year is backing up that claim. 

Opelka, the 17th-ranked player in the world, achieved his current career-high ranking in late February. 

In the past, South African coach Godwin worked for four years with two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson. 

“He most definitely can be a top 10 player,” Godwin said on the Control the Controllables podcast, per Sportskeeda. “He plays a brand of tennis that is exceptionally scary to play against. When he’s in the correct frame of mind and there’s nobody on any real surface, that is scary.”

Godwin: Opelka competed extremely well against Nadal

In March, Opelka suffered a straight-set defeat against Nadal in the Indian Wells Masters last-16. 

But it was all but an easy match for Nadal as the Spaniard edged out Opelka 7-6 (1) 7-6 (4). 

“He played Nadal in Indian Wells,” Godwin said. “Played a great match, lost 7-6 7-6 and had a chance post that to win a set and that’s as slow a hard court you can possibly get, so we were talking, how good could he be and I said, ‘I think he will honestly be at his very best in 18 months to two years time’. That’s just growing, maturing, learning the trade and being better.”

Opelka is a four-time ATP champion and he has two titles this year – Dallas and Houston. 

According to Godwin, Opelka is committed to training. 

“I mean he works incredibly hard,” Godwin said. “I mean like just this week is an example. Training for the US season, I think he’s done two or three weight sessions and he lifts pretty big numbers. He would’ve done a track session yesterday and he would’ve done two footwork sessions this week so as well as upper body strength and as well as tennis practice.”