June 19, 2024

Open Court


Opelka signs with FILA – but needs practice gear

MELBOURNE, Australia – Shortly after he turned pro in April 2015, young American Reilly Opelka signed a clothing sponsorship deal with New Balance.

As of Saturday, the 22-year-old has a new deal.

He’s now part of the family wearing the iconic Italian brand FILA.

There is only one problem; the deal got done on a pretty tight timeline with the Australian Open approaching.

So the scramble for gear is real.

Especially when we’re talking about a 6-foot-11, 225-pound chap who doesn’t exactly fit clothes out of the box, and wears size 15 shoes on top of it all.

Opelka debuted his 2020 season in Adelaide last week. He lost a third-set tiebreak to Pablo Cuevas in the first round

A week ago in Adelaide, when he made his 2020 debut, Opelka was still wearing New Balanca. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

He was still wearing the New Balance, with New Balance shoes.

Purple on the practice court

The FILA deal was officially announced on Jan. 18 (Saturday). And the press release came complete with some nice pics of Opelka wearing the gear.

A promo pic of Reilly Opelka wearing his new FILA gear was sent out on Saturday. But they’re still working on the practice stuff (Photo supplied by FILA)

As for practice gear, well, that is a work in progress.

On Sunday, practicing ahead of his first-round match against No. 12 seed Fabio Fognini (which ended up being postponed because of the rain early in the third set with Opelka up two sets to none), he had to improvise.

Putting aside the wisdom of putting a seven-foot giant in … lilac, Opelka was still wearing his old New Balance gear.

Opelka put tape over the logos. But it wasn’t tough to figure out.

The sneakers will still New Balance (which makes great sneakers). He did have the FILA socks, though,  

The cap comes from the California sustainable fashion house Mulch, which Opelka is affiliated with.

Full FILA for Fognini

Opelka first met Fognini at the last Grand Slam – in the first round of the 2019 US Open. And he defeated him in four sets.

On Monday, before the rains came, Opelka was fully kitted out in the Italian brand, against the well-known Italian player.

Marty Mulligan, who has worked for FILA since 1973 and is in global tennis marketing based in the Bay Area, was on hand to see Opelka’s FILA debut.

It was pretty imperative that he be well-outfitted, with the match getting good play on television in Italy because of Fognini.

And he was (except for the shoes).

No doubt that’s the next step.

In the meantime, if he needs anything at all on a temporary basis, he can at least take comfort in the fact that FILA has another American giant under contract: John Isner.

As it happens, Isner – to whom he’s often compared – also is a size 15.

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