American Teen Saves 3 M.P. To Oust Groth In Delray Beach
Top two seeds fall, Juan Martin del Potro in action Tuesday
American teenager Noah Rubin withstood 25 aces and saved three match points against Australian Sam Groth, prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6) on Tuesday afternoon at the Delray Beach Open. In a strong day of results for those on home soil, the top two seeds – Kevin Anderson and Bernard Tomic – also fell to Americans, with Anderson forced to retire after dropping the opening-set tie-break to Austin Krajicek and Tomic bowing to Rajeev Ram 7-6(3), 6-1.
Rubin fought off two match points at 4-5 and another at 5-6 before clinching the two-hour, 16-minute victory over big-serving Groth on his third match point. “This is definitely one of the Top 5 matches all time for me,” said the Long Island native. “I’m looking to carry this momentum and take it through the tournament.”
The 19 year old recorded his first tour-level win earlier this year at the Australian Open, when he defeated the 18th-ranked Benoit Paire, and afterwards climbed into the Top 250 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“Some people are able to get up there quicker than others,” said Rubin. “I think it’s more experience for the rest of us than anything. For the most part, we’re used to the tennis, but the experience of playing every point, day in day out, really solid all around, that’s something you don’t get as a junior or in college tennis. That’s something you need to find for yourself.”
Rubin will next face fifth-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, who cruised into the second round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over another Australian, Matt Ebden.
It was a disappointing end for top seed, Anderson. The 2012 champion was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury after dropping the opening-set tie-break 7/3 to Krajicek.
Anderson, the world No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, had won both prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with the 103rd-ranked Krajicek and served for the opening set at 5-3 before dropping serve and going on to drop the tie-break in an hour.
“I had to pull out of Chennai with my knee, Melbourne with me knee and I think I’d been trying really hard to get back and in doing so I think I may have compensated a little bit and my right shoulder has taken a bit of excess strain and load. I felt it in the very first game,” the South African said.
“To get broken the first time I think I served three or four double faults, from there it was a pretty tough battle. Losing serve and then going to the ’breaker, I just realised I was going through quite a bit of pain so to keep pushing and coming back would have been pretty tough to do.”
Second seed Tomic fell in an hour and two minutes to the World No. 89, Ram. Ram hit 14 aces and saved all three break points on his way past the Australian.
Continuing an impressive day for the Americans against the Aussies, sixth seed Steve Johnson saved a match point to edge out John Millman 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(8) in two hours and 31 minutes. Johnson saved a match point at 6/7 in the third-set tie-break before prevailing on his third match point, 10/8.
Other Americans on the victory list were Sam Querrey, a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker and Donald Young, who was leading Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(3), 3-0 when the Kazakh retired hurt. In an all-American battle, wild card Tim Smyczek saw off last week's Memphis runner-up, 18-year-old Taylor Fritz, 6-3, 6-3. Smyczek saved all eight break points in the one-hour, 13-minute match, while converting on three of his six chances.
Damir Dzumhur set a second-round clash with No. 4 seed Grigor Dimitrov after defeating Ricardas Berankis, 6-4, 6-2. German Benjamin Becker also advanced in early Tuesday action as he dismissed Radu Albot 6-4, 6-1. Japan’s Tatsuma Ito won the clash of the qualifiers against American Dennis Novikov, 6-2, 6-4, while Illya Marchenko downed Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4.