Facing Roger Federer is the dream of most young tennis players who enter the major circuit. Noah Rubin had this chance at the 2017 Australian Open, becoming one of the seven victims of the Swiss phenomenon on the way to his historic 18th Grand Slam title.
The former World number 1 was returning to the tour after a six-month break, so he struggled more than expected at the start of the tournament, also risking his debut against Jurgen Melzer. While unable to win even one set in the second round, the American left the Rod Laver Arena to the applause of the audience and after receiving the compliments of Federer himself.
In a long interview for ‘The Tennis Inspector’ YouTube channel, Rubin recounted his feelings when he found himself having to challenge his childhood idol.
Rubin on Roger Federer
"It was very strange feeling," Noah Rubin said.
"When he was doing his hair, waiting for the coin toss; it almost looked like I was watching him on TV or something. I am a New Yorker. Once I step on the court and we started hitting, I'm like 'I'm gonna kick his ass', I wanna do this.
It took some time in the beginning, to hit past Roger Federer. And then obviously, a jam-packed Rod Laver Arena, 15000 people. Very cool. Disappointed that I didn't get (convert) the set points. I would have loved to go to a fourth set, but it is what it is.
He makes you play bigger than you want to. He makes you go for shots you don't want to go for," the American explained. "Let him do the Roger Federer thing, but don't beat yourself down," Rubin added. The current World number 225 has lost the chance to meet Federer again at Wimbledon 2019, where he was surprised by local darling Jay Clarke in the first round despite being ahead of a set and a break.
In the event of a victory, the challenge with Roger would be repeated. We will see if the rematch is only postponed for some time. He also talked about Novak Djokovic: "All my personal interactions with Novak have been actually really pleasant.
I actually like him a lot, as personally, before all this situation. But the fact of the matter is, we all know very well that, when he was coming up… trying to make this up, he changed a lot in his PR game… started taking kids down.
He switched that around quickly I think. He wasn’t most liked when he first entered kind of the top of the game. And then he switched that around."