Rielly Opelka demands tennis scraps mixed doubles events – ‘No-one cares about it’

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Reilly Opelka has slammed mixed doubles events and declared that the money deserved to be distributed to lower-ranked players in qualifying. The Grand Slams are the only tournaments left that see the men and women partner up to compete against one another for the title, though the 24-year-old believes “no one cares” about them.

Opelka made his top 20 debut last month, becoming the top-ranked American player for the first time.

The 24-year-old also made his maiden Masters 1000 final at the Toronto Masters in August, and this week is playing in the postponed Indian Wells tournament as the 16th seed.

The current world No 20 has never shied away from sharing his opinions on the game and ways it could become better, though his latest opinion may not be one that everyone shares.

Opelka has declared that mixed doubles should be scrapped, in favour of funding qualifying.

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Sharing his thoughts on the tennis media, the American told Inside Tennis: “We have a journalist saying, ‘Mixed-doubles is not in the French Open this year. That’s what makes a Slam 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 about it, no one watches or wants it to be there.”

Mixed doubles is now only played at the Grand Slams, and despite Opelka’s claims that “no-one cares” about the ATP-WTA pairings, many have called for mixed doubles to return on a bigger stage.

There was outrage when the Hopman Cup, previously staged at the beginning of each season in Perth ahead of the Australian Open, was scrapped by Tennis Australia in favour of a men’s only team competition, the ATP Cup.

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The Hopman Cup brought mixed doubles to the centre stage at the beginning of 2019, when Serena Williams and Roger Federer faced off for the first time.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion was representing Team USA alongside Frances Tiafoe while Roger Federer was partnering Belinda Bencic once again to represent Team Switzerland.

Their mixed doubles clash was praised for putting tennis on sporting front pages across the globe as a selfie taken by Williams and Federer appeared everywhere the following day.

However, Opelka believes the money used in mixed doubles events at the majors can be funnelled into qualifying to benefit lower-ranked players.

He added: “Just get rid of it and throw all that money into the 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.”

Meanwhile on the match court, the world No 20 successfully made it through his opening match in Indian Wells, beating Taro Daniel 6-3 7-5.

He next faces former world No 3 Grigor Dimitrov in an intriguing third-round encounter on Monday (October 11).

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