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French Open: John Isner bests LI’s Noah Rubin in first round

Rubin forced two tiebreaks before falling to the ninth seed in straight sets.

Noah Rubin plays a return to John Isner

Noah Rubin plays a return to John Isner during their men's singles first-round at the French Open in Paris on May 28, 2018. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Christophe Simon

Noah Rubin’s debut in the French Open turned out to be a spirited loss in the first round to fellow American and ninth seed John Isner on Tuesday.

In a match continued from Monday when rain interrupted it after two sets, Rubin, the 22-year-old from Merrick, lost the third set in a tiebreak and Isner moved on with a 6-3, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7) win on the red clay at Roland Garros.

Rubin continually had to cope with the 6-10 Isner’s massive serve. Isner served 28 aces for the match, and untold service winners. But Rubin had his chances on Tuesday as he did the day before.

In the ninth game of the third set, Rubin worked his way into two break points, the only break points he would hold on Isner’s serve in the match. Again Isner’s big serve bailed him out.

Then in the tiebreak Rubin held a set point, but Isner blasted a service winner to tie it at 6-6. Rubin missed a backhand down the line that would have set up another set point on his own serve. Rubin also had a set point in the second set tiebreak on Monday.

It was the first time Rubin had ever faced Isner and his serve.

“It’s a game in itself and I found myself putting some pressure on it at times,” Rubin said via text. “It was somewhat fun but other times frustrating, but that’s just a part of it.”

“I can’t be disappointed at all,” said Rubin’s father, Eric, his original coach. “The pressure is so great to hit every single point and play every service point perfectly. Noah basically did that short of one or two points. Isner was returning really well, too. He probably hit three or four key returns for winners.”

This was the fourth Grand Slam that Rubin has played. He earned his way into the second major of the year by winning the French Open Wild Card Challenge, a series of clay court events through April. At last year’s Australian Open he lost in the second round to Roger Federer in three competitive sets. This season Rubin won an ATP Challenger clay court event in Tallahassee in April and another Challenger in New Caledonia at the start of the year.

Of his match on Tuesday, there was disappointment and optimism.

“I had to do one thing well and it was capitalizing and I didn’t do that,” Rubin said. “I fought hard, which gave me opportunities and I know I deserve to be at this level. It’s only a matter of time. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

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