The 6-foot-10 Opelka rarely drops serve, so early break point opportunities need to be seized. Unfortunately for Hurkacz, he was unable to convert either of his two break points in the opening game of the match and he got almost no chances after that.
"I didn't miss many serves after about 3-all," said the 17-year-old from Palm Coast, Florida. "I got lucky, honestly, to break him in the first set, hit an unbelievable passing shot on the dead run. The only way I could have gotten it by him was to hit a lob or the sideline, and I hit the sideline, which gave me 15-40. At 30-40, I neutralized the point, moved the ball around, had a ball I liked and kind of stepped in and that was it."
In the second set, Opelka's serve made for some easy holds, while Hurkacz got fewer free points.
"In the second set he had zero chance of breaking me," Opelka said. "Maybe he won three points on my serve, maybe six returns came back. But the breaker was tough."
With the server winning every point, Opelka faced a set point serving at 5-6. He didn't get a first serve in, but saved it instead with a running forehand crosscourt pass. A good backhand gave Opelka a match point, but Hurkacz saved it when Opelka forehand went just wide. At 7-7 Hurkacz finally blinked, double faulting to gave Opelka another match point, converted when Hurkacz's forehand went wide.
Mmoh defeated Opelka 6-4, 6-2 in the round of 16 at Kalamazoo and a few weeks later Opelka toppled Mmoh, the No. 1 seed, in the semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships in College Park, Maryland 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
"It'll be tough," said Opelka. "I'm expecting him to serve a lot better than he did in Maryland for sure. He's playing well, he has a ton of confidence, obviously, as anyone should after four straight finals." (Actually Mmoh has a semifinal Futures loss this fall, making it four finals in five tournaments played).
"Two Americans in the finals of 18s, two Americans in the finals of 16s, Bellamy, Khan, Garcia, Americans are having a great tournament," Opelka said.
Mmoh is looking forward to the rematch.
"When we play, we both have really good serves, it's always tough to break each other," Mmoh said.
As for Opelka's success and affinity for clay, Mmoh admits to being puzzled by it.
"It actually surprises me a lot," Mmoh said. "He always told me he was better on clay than on hard, but I didn't really listen. Watching him play, yesterday especially, he was hitting really well from the back, moving pretty well, I was really shocked to be honest."