Long Island's own Noah Rubin began his New York Open campaign with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over fifth seed Mackenzie MacDonald to move into the final qualifying stage. The 23-year old is just returning to the circuit after a long battle with injuries and he faces Paolo Lorenzi for a spot in the main draw.
"I felt good with this win" over opponent Rubin is extremely familiar with
Rubin began his post-match press conference by discussing the match, saying "I've known Mackie my whole life. I think it really comes down to who plays their style of tennis better. He's attacking every ball, I don't think he did that extremely well today. Today I defended at times. When I got down a break it was almost a relief, it was like "okay, I'm losing and the world's not coming to an end, so I think we're okay right now, let's take a breath.
"That's the pressure of playing in New York. I still haven't managed to perfect it or get anywhere near the realm of perfecting playing in New York, but it's going to take time and I feel good with this win."
Having been so familiar with McDonald and his game, the 23-year old stated "I think we both know getting in each other's face is not going to do anything for one another and we both were again with the lack of confidence were focusing on ourselves right now. I think that's really what it comes down to is you have guys that have been out here for a long time, longer than me. We're just like what we have to do for our own game to come out and give our self the best chance.
"I think it took until I got that drop shot to break him at 3-1. It took until then to get a fist pump out of me and you know it felt good. I gave up some opportunities in the second (set) but I was happy to close it out."
"It's exciting to get the opportunity" in front of home crowd, says Long Island native
Now residing in Rockville Centre, the Long Island product said "they do this for a lot of people but you know, they're all screaming "Long Island" when I was signing autographs and it just shows what kind of community it is. Whether they know my mother or father, they've seen me around and you know, it's home. The US Open has never really been home for me and this is literally home.
"I've said this numerous times, Islanders games, whatever it is, this is where I've always been. It's 15 minutes away from my house. You try to use that and at times I did, I really did when I was you know yuh sing the momentum to my advantage. It is extremely beneficial and you have to know that they're going to be on your side no matter what and use that but again, it's exciting. It's exciting to be out here to get that opportunity regardless of qualifying, I'm here to play."
"He's one of my favorite guys on tour" Rubin says of Lorenzi
Giving his thoughts on facing Lorenzi, Rubin said "he's one of my favorite guys on tour. I cramped against him last year on clay. I mean "veteran" would be an understatement, this guy has epitomized world tour tennis for many years. I mean an absolute warrior still out there. One of the nicest guys on tour by far. I think these courts are good for both of us.
"It's going to be a fun one but to get this last one under my belt, will allow me to probably play much more freely. I'm excited."
Rubin happy with where he is after accelerating comeback from injury
Having to go through qualifying after being given a main draw wild card the last two years, he observed that "i'm not necessarily going to thank them for not giving me a main draw wild card. But yes, at a time like this especially without confidence, a match is great. I think the problem comes where Mackie is no worse than some of the main draw guys. So saying that I have an easier time in qualifying, I wouldn't say that at all.
"I think it's the same opportunity. I can't complain. I'm happy with my win today. I'm happy where I'm at. It's a relief if anything else in and hopefully people think that I can still play tennis. At this level throughout the time people just struggle with confidence, that's just what happens when you're around 150, 120 to 250."
Having ended his 2019 in September, Rubin said "I rushed it" in regards to coming back to the tour. "I really only played about a week before Christmas. Australia is a tough one to turn down even with the situation over there. I've had some really great successes and one of my favorite tournaments in the world. I just moved back to Long Island, so I just needed to be out there, I needed to play. Last week was the first week without pain. I'm definitely moving in the right direction. I'm going to keep on and just try to have fun with it."