Noah Rubin's decision to leave Wake Forest after one year looks smarter and smarter by the minute. After us East Coasters went to bed, the 19-year-old notched his first career major win over the No. 17 seed Benoit Paire from France in the Australian Open, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5).
Rubin used his cat-like speed and reflexes to frustrate Paire, who lived up to his reputation as a head case. The powerful Frenchman hit 61 winners and 18 aces, to Rubin's 22 winners and five aces. However, his propensity to make mistakes, 72 unforced errors to Rubin's 22, cost him the match. His anger came out early and often. Here, he shattered his racket on serve in the first set.
Noah Rubin's best chance is to use his speed/consistency to frustrate No. 18 Paire, who has a reputation for being a total head case.— Griffin Kurzius (@Griffin_Kurzius) January 18, 2016
Ranked No. 328 in the world and playing in only his second career Grand Slam main draw, the Long Island native did not play a perfect match. However, he did play his unique style that will keep Top 50 off their toes. While many (American) players today try to overpower their opponents, Rubin uses his speed, consistency and guile to move his opponents around and keep them off-balanced. Listed at a generous 5-foot-10, he often says that he looks up to other short, steady baseliners like David Ferrer and Lleyton Hewitt. Today, he looked like their clone, matching their strategy and intensity to a tee.
Immediately after the best win of his young career, Rubin went straight to his cell phone. As Twitter laughed at the actions of millennials, Rubin said to Tennis.com, "My girlfriend's sending me pictures - I'm trending on twitter. I mean, that stuff is cool."
While visibly excited about his first Top 20 win, he stayed calm and collected, "People have done way better than me at my age. People have won slams at my age so winning one round is not too terrific."
When asked about playing on a big stadium at such a young age, Rubin said, "I love being in the spotlight. I hope I don't come off cocky or arrogant, but I do enjoy playing in the spotlight. I've always played my best tennis."
Meanwhile, Paire didn't give the young American much credit for the straight set win, "I played against a not-good player, but I was very bad today so that's it, I lost."
Giant win for Noah Rubin: • 1st main-draw ATP win • 1st win at a slam • 1st top-20 win • Will enter top-300 w/ win • Faces a qualifier next— Parsa (@Smith_J1989) January 18, 2016
On Wednesday, Rubin will play qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, ranked No. 103 in the world. Oddly enough, the best performance of the 24-year-old Frenchman's career was reaching the 2015 Winston-Salem Open finals. At this point of their respective careers, most would have expected these players to be battling in the second round at Wake Forest Tennis Complex, not in Melbourne. But here Rubin is, with an incredible opportunity in his grasps, a long way from Winston-Salem.