Tennis Prose



Reilly Opelka: The media is awful in our sport

2016 Citi Open

By Scoop Malinowski

American tennis champion Reilly Opelka obliterated the tennis media in what may be the most scathing rebuke in history by a professional athlete. Opelka said last year at the US Open the “tennis media is the worst” and then was recently requested by Bill Simons for an interview about that statement for his Inside Tennis magazine.

Opelka, winner of two ATP singles titles and currently ranked 24 in the world, stunningly did not relent a centimeter from his adversarial stance against the tennis media and their questionable methods, in fact he fortified his position and unloaded even more resentment…

Question: You said the tennis media sucks?

Opelka: These guys are terrible. There are some bad journalists. You have some guys that just criticize. They look to be super negative. Guys that know nothing about tennis. I think we have the worst media of any sport, quite frankly.

Simons attempted to defend the tennis media…

Question: Do you think there are reporters who do have an understanding, who work hard to tell the story of the game and bring personalities alive?

Opelka: I’m sure there are. But none of the ones that interview me or none of the ones that I’ve done pressers with. I’m in the finals of Toronto and these guys are asking me, What’s wrong with American tennis? Why aren’t there any players in the top 30? The same in Rome. I’m in the semis and they’re finding the negative. I’m 23 and playing Rafa. Things are quite all right. I’m in the finals of Toronto and we are going to talk about how Americans don’t win slams? They take subtle shots at Isner. I’m like, Why? He’s been top 20 for ten years in a row. We have a journalist saying, Mixed doubles is not in the French Open this year, that’s what makes a slam. Like, really? Is that a joke? There shouldn’t even be mixed doubles. They should get rid of it completely. It doesn’t sell a ticket. No one cares, watches, or wants it. Throw all the money into women’s and men’s qualifying. Take care of your people that actually have potential to sell tickets. It just shocks me. The media is awful in our sport. It holds our sport back. It really does.

Question: John McEnroe recently said that American fans were spoiled by generations of great players. Do fans want winners – and just don’t appreciate lower ranked players?

Opelka: Enjoy what you got. The guys that are here. Why criticize them so much? Don’t compare us to Sampras and Agassi. Just enjoy us, support us. You don’t even know the first thing about me. There are so many negative people out there. I will say one name. Chris Fowler tweeted about Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest man to make a slam quarterfinal. He tweeted: “What a shame that he threw in the towel, hope that isn’t a pattern.” That was pathetic.

Simons attempted to defend Fowler:

But Alcaraz is just eighteen, plays in the shadow of Rafa, and was balling in New York. Opelka didn’t budge…

Opelka: I tweeted back at Fowler saying, “After everything Carlos showed this week, you’re really going to question his courage?” That’s one take that’s terrible. This guy is on ESPN, he does college football, he shouldn’t work another tennis match. It hurts the sport because ESPN has a lot of guys who are following football and don’t know Alcaraz, and they don’t know anything about tennis and they’re like, This young kid just walked off the court, what an idiot, what a jackass. That just can’t happen. If I’m commissioner of tennis, that’s one offense too much.

Question: There are some problematic media people but there are plenty who are trying to do the work and staying up till 1:30 AM to file their stuff…

Opelka: Totally, yeah. I know there are. But with that same logic they wrote me into the same American negative narrative. Not ripping you but people were so sensitive about it. It’s like, If you’re not willing to take it, don’t dish it out. I’m not just going to sit up on the podium and be a punching bag. Find something other than Sampras and Agassi, like, get over it. Quit blowing on that shit. It’s over. Times have changed. Move on.

Simons attempted to get the interview back on track but Opelka wasn’t finished scolding the man who symbolized the negative American tennis media.

Question: What about your generation, Tiafoe, Paul, Fritz – fresh energy, working hard?

Opelka: We’re all friends. No bad blood. We’re not the next Agassi, Sampras or Courier. Do you know how many times I’ve been asked that? Can I finally say: “I don’t know and I don’t fucking care.” All I know is that I like Frances, Tommy and Fritz. We have fun and travel the world. Frances came from Sierra Leone and has done an incredible job. Tommy Paul’s from Greenville, NC. He didn’t come from money, he didn’t have a coach. His mom saved up money, traveled to every tournament, no matter how far. Same for me. I’m not from much money. I have two great parents. They gave me every resource and went into debt. We came from nothing.

Simons again attempted to soften the interview but Opelka again vented…

Question: Does it bring you pride that as such a big man you are bringing athleticism, movement and stroke production to tennis?

Opelka: I take pride in winning matches and being the best I can. I don’t care how I win, I don’t care if it’s ugly, I don’t care if a journalist wants to criticize it and say I have no return of serve. If I hold serve 95 percent of the time, I’m going to be top eight. I’m one of the best athletes in the world. I’m going to be making $8-10 million and I don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks.

Question: What do you want to do in the sport?

Opelka: My dream is to win a slam.

Simons also revealed he asked Opelka if he would like to name the names:

I could name names but I don’t want to. Actually I do want to name names. (Opelka then called out three of America’s most prominent tennis writers but asked me to not use the names.)

You can read the full Opelka interview – and I highly recommend you do in the Inside Tennis Yearbook 2022 which strangely has Peng Shuai on the cover. Why put a non tennis story on the cover when young Americans like Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Jenson Brooksby, Sebastian Korda and Frances Tiafoe would have been the more deserving personalities to promote and celebrate???

That’s the tennis media for you. Politics and agendas over pure tennis coverage? Like Opelka says, “The media is awful in our sport.”

Novak Djokovic recently expressed his thoughts on the tennis media: “The information system has gone in a direction that is no longer one that is a basis for journalism. More is controlled from one or two sources, so propaganda is spread that suits the elite.”

You have to presume Reilly Opelka speaks the sentiments of many other players who while they cooperate politely at press conferences, may similary resent the methods and qualities of the tennis media. And change will only happen if more players speak out bravely like Opelka has.

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  • Sam · February 4, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    But Alcaraz is just eighteen . . . and was balling in New York.

    Scoop, do you really want to include salacious content like this in your articles? 😉

    The media is awful in our sport.

    And that’s their good points. 😆

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 4, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    Sam, that is how the interview exactly spelt and termed what Alcaraz was doing at US Open “…and was balling in New York.” I was stunned by that choice of words also by a veteran and respected tennis publisher, reporter and journalist. You will never see me use those kinds of words here, I don’t even know what balling means exactly. Very unprofessional.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 4, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Phil Naessens Show @pnaessensshow 6h
    Replying to @FreeWorldPe0ple @CNN and 3 others
    I’m not a fan of Rothenberg at all but there is an element of truth in what he says. The trouble with Ben is we KNOW he will destroy anyone in order to further his career. The only tennis journo I trust is @scoopmalinowski but that’s because he knows the sport where Ben doesn’t.

  • Sam · February 4, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for the info, Scoop. I was just kidding. 😉

    It’s probably a typo—most likely Simons meant “bawling” instead. Sloppy journalism at best, though. 🤡

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 4, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Was Alcaraz actually bawling when he retired that match? Or did he mean “balling” as in playing great. Bill Simons would not make such a grammar error.

  • Sam · February 4, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    Well, Scoop, here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says that the verb “to ball” means. Surely Simons didn’t mean one of these: 🤣

    If you leave your readers scratching their heads as to what you really mean, well, that ain’t good journalism. 🤪

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 5, 2022 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the possible addition to my vocabulary Sam. I don’t remember seeing Alcaraz crying at us open. He seemed injury free actually.

  • Sam · February 5, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    No problem, Scoop. According to another dictionary, “to ball” can also be used informally (in the U.S. at least) to mean “to play basketball.” I guess Simons was just using the term in a general sense—hoping that it would somehow apply to tennis. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Anyway, glad that Opelka isn’t afraid to speak his mind! 👍

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 5, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    Sam, yuo can feel the resentment Opelka feels for the media, every question he reverted back to essentially telling Simons and tennis media You suck. His point of view is very convincing too. Aside from this site and I may be a little biased, I find most of all the other tennis sites to be boring and their coverage of tennis just basic and bland. There are no risk takers out there, no daring creative innovators, just basic bland boring tennis coverage. Please prove me wrong if I’m forgetting or missing a great one.

  • Sam · February 6, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    There are no risk takers out there, no daring creative innovators, just basic bland boring tennis coverage. Please prove me wrong if I’m forgetting or missing a great one.

    I’m not exactly the person to ask, since I don’t frequent that many tennis sites. 😉

    Anyway, it seems that you certainly have an original site, Scoop. 👍

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 6, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks Sam, how did you happen to find

  • Matty · February 7, 2022 at 12:37 am

    Let me take the other side of the argument Reilly . These players have been coddled for so many years that they don’t have the first idea how to mix with the fans. Wanna know how to meet a professional tennis player? Go to a Challenger event cause you won’t run into any at an ATP event. Sure there are work arounds – the suite entrance at the US Open or the National Park that’s home for the DC tourney. Mason Ohio or the Palm Desert?? Good luck!! By and large every event is off limits with nary a meet & greet….

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2022 at 8:12 am

    Matty, Newport is very accessible, players on the grounds and also they walk to the tournament down Bellevue Ave from the Viking hotel about a quarter mile walk through downtown. You also see the players around Newport enjoying the atmosphere and sites. Saw Querrey riding go kart around town, Sock at the Italian restaurant across the street from the hall of fame, Dr. Ivo and Mannarino walking down Bellevue. Newport is fantastic tournament.

  • Sam · February 8, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks Sam

    No problem, Scoop.

    how did you happen to find

    Well, I was walking in the woods one day. And there was a big rock in the middle of the path. So, just out of curiosity, I turned it over. Then, lo and behold, there was—sitting underneath!!! 🤣

    Actually, I saw the URL a few years ago in your signature line over on Before then, I hadn’t heard of your site.

    By the way, did you see the flopped Richard Williams flick? If so, just curious what your thoughts were. I haven’t, but am guessing that maybe the part about the sex change didn’t go over so well with the general public. 😆

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 8, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    Sam, didn’t see it and won’t see it. I feel like I know the whole story already and I don’t like reenactments. The Ali film with will smith is one of the worst movies I ever saw, rather just watch you tube of Ali, the real thing. With Venus and Serena as executive producers it means they omitted all the controversial and negative elements of their life. I prefer reality and real documentaries created by an outside party.



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