Is Noah Rubin Caput?

After qualifying for the Australian Open in January of 2017 and winning his first round match against no. 113 Bjorn Frantangelo, Noah Rubin, 21, of Long Island, New York, didn’t beat another player ranked inside the top 150 and only beat one player, Sam Groth, ranked inside the top 200. He suffered a wrist injury that kept him out from April to August, but he was a first round loser to Tobias Kamke in the US Open Qualis and then proceeded to only reach one semis and one quarters in eight Challenger events he played in Australia and the US after the Open. Rubin finished the year ranked no. 201.

At 5-9, 150-lbs, Rubin like Mckenzie McDonald, who won the NCAA singles while Rubin fell a match short in his freshman year at Wake Forest, is always fighting an uphill battle when it comes to power and service prowess. But we saw in 2017, other mighty mites like Diego Schwartzman, 5-7 and no. 26 and Damir Dzumhur, 5-9 and no. 30, rise up in the rankings despite their size impingement.

I personally like Rubin. What I’ve seen of him on the court, his behavior and mental and attitudinal approach is exemplary. But he doesn’t really have a weapon besides his speed and you wonder if this first New York native since Pat McEnroe to show big potential really has a future on the ATP Tour. I’m very curious to see how as he turns 22 in February, Rubin responds to a very down year in 2017 after his strong showing at the Australian Open. 1234603_1413226802227158_407415117_n

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  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Scoop, is Klahn driving the backhand? Guys like Johnson have at least developed a dependable slice backhand, though I don’t recall seeing Klahn hit a decent one in a long time.

    I don’t understand why players don’t get their week strokes up to par. It only adds to their match toughness and game out there.

    Catherine, I didn’t mean to dismiss your statements, only to say that whereas you don’t believe in luck, I think there is a basis to believe that there is an element to luck out there.

    I think sometimes Nadal has alluded to luck and its role out there. He’s had some losses where he’s had to say well, that was unreal, how did that guy play so well against me, given I did everything right? Nadal usually says, “too good” (and sometimes thinks, let’s see that player do what he did the next round! Nadal tends to hedge his bets whenever asked about another player’s chances because he knows it isn’t a sure thing).

    I think Nadal believes in luck. And I think even if Brian Baker considers himself fortunate, his career has been overshadowed by a lot of what could have been.

    For an analogy, Brian Baker is to tennis as Grant Hill was to NBA basketball. Both incredible and never given much of a chance from injuries they had nothing to do with.

  • Andrew Miller · December 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Rubin can come back or pull a Kosakowski.

  • catherine · December 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Andrew – ah, ‘what could have been’ !

    Poets have written sonnets about that :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Andrew, Klahn’s forehand is the money shot but his backhand looked penetrating to me. Sure it’s a weaker wing like Johnson and Sock but it won a lot of matches this year.

  • jg · December 10, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve watched some of Klahn’s matches recently and he’s hitting a lot of slice backhands and his slice looks like it’s gotten much better

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 10, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Klahn has only won 4 of 22 ATP main tour level matches in his career. Four ATP wins but he got to 63 in the world in 2014. This year he was 0-0 in ATP but overall 29-24 this year with a better second half. His best wins were vs Escobedo (91) and Estrella Burgos (81). He made three finals in Calabasas, Monterrey and Fairfield Challenger but lost all three. Klahn started the year at 854 and finished ranked 215. Not bad coming off a 21 month hiatus for injury.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 11, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Scoop, you want credit for Nishikori, I’ll give it to you. Sock, yes you did predict Top 10 for the fair-haired boy and he has delivered too, but what about the fact that you said last year you thought Sock had at least a slam semis in him, and at the last two slams, he bombed out of both in the first or second at Wimby and the first at USO?

    I know Nishioka is talented, and I know your love of Rios, but Top 10 for him would be extraordinary.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    If Goffin, Ferrer, Nishikori, Rios can be top ten, I think Nishioka can do it too.

  • Andrew Miller · December 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I’ll say top ten composition has changed pretty drastically. The big four more or less in place, but the five to ten slots pretty much a new batch of players.

    This still speaks to how amazingly great the top four are. So good that the rest of the tennis world revolves around them on the men’s tour.

    It also shows that for mere mortals like Ferrer and Berdych, that life goes on. Whereas for supermen Federer, Nadal it’s like nothing has changed. Here we are, twelve and thirteen years after they dug in, and they are still on top of the tour. Lendl could only dream of this kind of mark on the sport.

  • Andrew Miller · December 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Back to the USA men, can we hand the trophy already to Sam Querrey for single handedly shoving himself into the conversation on the best USA men since Roddick retired?

    We have to hand Querrey the early honors. He’s won titles on every surface and is the only USA men’s player to make a slam quarter and slam semifinal since 2011, ending a six year drought for quarters and an even longer drought for USA men in a slam semifinal.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 11, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Querrey definitely resurrected his career from being Isner’s caddy to being a legit contender at majors. The American Armada is looking pretty strong for 2018. Sock is clearly the General of the US tennis troops though with Q and Iz as first lieutenants.

  • Doogie · December 14, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I am late on this conversation here but my predictions:

    Rubin has such poor technique – he will never be a Top 50 player. Movement alone can u bring inside 100 but not more. He does not even has one (!) weapon. Imo I am surprised we talk about him that much. I dont see anything special on him.

    Nishioka: I see some potential too but not for Top 10. I have a problem about Asian tennis players: Their body cant stand for many years on tour. Watched it soo many times – curious to find out why it is so??? Anyone knows?? Remember Paradorn, Lu (who is always injured but good player). Kei has incredible technique (so has Goffin!!!) – his body is ruined too :(

    I always rated him high too as all of u know but coming into Top 10 is a fluke (sorry Scoop)
    For me Carreno Busta and Sock are not Top10 players. Both had huge huge luck in one (!) tournament.
    Busta has beaten 4 qualifiers and one death player (Schwartzmann who was a bye this round).
    Same for Sock in Paris: The only good player he beat was Pouille, who was injured.

    Beaten 2 challenger players in semifinale and finale is just awesome.
    Sock should be Top20 and maybe Top10 but not because of a crazy tournament.

    I know u still has to win these matches – credit to him but for ME it is a fluke ATM

  • catherine · December 14, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Dan – Asia’s a big place and there are exceptions but in many countries in the region people are in general smaller and have a slighter build and find some sports like the constant grind of pro tennis too hard on their bodies.

    Human physical make-up changes over generations of course, depending on environment, diet etc. That’s as much as I can say, not being expert.

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