Rubin's comeback earns him another shot at top seed Krueger in ISC semis
Trailing 4-1 in the third set of his International Spring Championships quarterfinal match with wild card Ronnie Schneider, No. 3 seed Noah Rubin hadn't yet let go of his hope for a semifinal berth against top seed Mitchell Krueger.
"I remembered the last time I played [Schneider] at Clays," said Rubin, who won the final five games to take a 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 victory Friday afternoon. "I lost the first set, like I did here, and then came back and won 2 and 1, I believe, so I knew I had an opportunity in this match, knew I had the potential."
For the second match in a row, Schneider lost a second set 6-0, but despite dropping serve to start the third set, he was able to recover to break Rubin the next two times, building his 4-1 lead. Schneider, who won the USTA Spring National Championships three weeks ago, had three game points for a 5-2 lead, but Rubin got back on serve, converting his only break point when Schneider netted a forehand.
Rubin, the 2011 International Spring Championships 16s winner, held at love, then again capitalized on his only break point to put himself in position to serve for the match. At 30-30, Rubin hit a forehand winner the ultra-quick Schneider could only lunge at, and on his first match point, Rubin put away an overhead for the victory.
The 16-year-old New Yorker now gets a second shot at top seed Mitchell Krueger, who beat him 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the ITF B1 Pan American Closed last fall in Tulsa.
"I was at the Futures with him in Texas, and he's playing very well as always," Rubin said.
Asked whether he learned anything in Tulsa that he could employ in Saturday's match, Rubin said, "We'll find out tomorrow."
The 18-year-old Krueger, who has been hitting with pros from Indian Wells to Zurich to his home in Dallas in the past month, reached the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-2 win over his doubles partner Alexios Halebian, the No. 5 seed.
Krueger was twice up a break in the first set--at 2-1 and 4-3-- but both times immediately gave the break right back. He also had a 4-2 lead in the tiebreaker before Halebian came back to make it 4-4. Krueger was steadier in the later stages however, with Halebian hitting a backhand way long to make it 5-4 Krueger, who forced an error with a deep backhand to give himself two set points. Halebian saved the first with a forehand pass that Krueger argued was wide, but he double faulted on the second to give Krueger the 70-minute first set.
"It was a good set, he was hitting some good shots," said Krueger, who was a regular hitting partner with Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic during the BNP Paribas Open last month. "It was a pretty close tiebreaker, and other than that double fault, it was a pretty good tiebreaker."
Krueger was immediately broken to open the second set, with his unforced errors the primary cause, but he got the break back immediately and got his opportunity with Halebian serving at 2-3. After a long rally on break point, Halebian missed, and the left-hander from California, pounded his racquet into the court, drawing a point penalty (he had received a warning for ball abuse at the end of the first set). That point came in handy in the next game, as Krueger needed four game points before he could finally convert, but he held his lead, then broke Halebian again to end the match.
With his recent stint at the Zurich Open with the ATP Champions tour, Krueger is not accustomed to being the oldest player on the court, but that is his position in this tournament, his first junior tournament of the year.
"I'm not used to it," said Krueger. "It feels weird."
The other boys semifinal will feature 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov, the No. 12 seed, who beat No. 4 seed Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, and 16-year-old Luca Corinteli, the 14th seed, who defeated qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 6-3, 7-6(3).