FL – FEBRUARY 21: during his men’s Singles third round match against of on day four of the 2020 Delray Beach Open at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on February 21

In a battle of two big servers, second seed Milos Raonic, ranked No. 37, was unable to overcome the challenge of fourth seed Reilly Opelka (No. 54) of the United States in the Delray Beach Open semi-finals, losing 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 on Sunday.

Heading into the final four, Raonic had beaten Denis Istomin (No. 164) of Uzbekistan, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (No. 147) of Germany and Steve Johnson (No. 76) of the United States. This was the Canadian’s second meeting with Opelka having beaten him 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-1 at Wimbledon last year.

This semi-final was delayed after play was cancelled on Friday night following rain delays. But that didn’t seem to knock Raonic off his stride as he broke Opelka’s serve at the first time of asking. It proved to be the decisive moment of the first set as the Canadian went on to win it 6-4.

The second remained on serve – with just one break point opportunity for each player – and was eventually decided by a tiebreak. Opelka made a tremendous start, winning the first five points but Raonic fought back impressively to level proceedings at 5-5. The Canadian then manufactured a match point but couldn’t take it and Opelka would go on to win the set 7-6(6).

From that point on, the American was clearly riding a wave of momentum. He made the first move of the third set, breaking Raonic’s serve to take a 4-3 lead, which he would consolidate to 5-3, before breaking the Canadian again to win the deciding set 6-3.

Opelka will now face Yoshihito Nishioka (No. 63) of Japan after he beat sixth seed Ugo Humbert of France in the other semi-final. The championship match will take place no earlier than 3 p.m. Eastern this afternoon.

(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)