Former Wake Forest University and NCAA standout Noah Rubin won his first ATP Tour match since February of 2020, and he did it on what he considers home soil.
“Getting to see the black and gold [of the university] again was so surreal. I miss it. It really does feel like home,” said a visibly enthused Rubin.
The 25-year-old Long Islander played his freshman year for the Demon Deacons, finishing the year as the number-five-ranked player in the country, before decided to take his game to the next level on the ATP Tour.
Rubin rose as high as 125 in the rankings but has had a rough stretch during the pandemic. He snapped his losing streak today, ousting another collegiate star, JC Aragone, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 in just more than two hours.
“It’s been a year and a half now since I won a match, and it was so nice to do it at home,” Rubin added.
His victory sets up a clash with former ATP World No. 10 Lucas Pouille.
Pouille also needed three sets in his qualifying match, dropping the first to Darian King in a tiebreaker, but closing the match out 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The Frenchman is working his way back through the rankings, currently sitting just outside the top 100 but has five ATP titles to his credit.
Rubin leads the head-to-head with Pouille, winning their only previous meeting which came at the Indian Wells Challenger in March of last year just before COVID-19 effectively cancelled most of the tennis season.
Another qualifier who had success on opening day was 2015 Winston-Salem Open finalist Pierre-Hughes Herbert. The 30-year-old ousted the other Wake Forest Demon Deacon in the draw, Eduardo Nava. Herbert lost the first set in a breaker but flipped the match in his direction closing out the last two sets 6-3, 6-0.
He faces Tung-Lin Wu who needed only 40 minutes to send Donald Young out 6-0, 6-0.
Other qualifying winners include Max Purcell who won the battle of the Aussies 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 over John-Patrick Smith. Purcell faces American Denis Kudla who came through in a clean match over fellow American Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-3. Kudlas has just returned to the world’s top 100.
Alexi Popyrin and Yosuke Watanuki round out the qualifying finals, which begin at 2 p.m.
Main draw matches start at 3 p.m. on Stadium Court where American Tennys Sandgren will takes on Marco Cecchinato from Italy. The day action also includes main draw battles between Thiago Monteiro who faces James Duckworth and Egor Gerasimov who will slug it out with Norbert Gombos.
Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios headline the night session Stadium Court with three more matches on the outer courts also slated for the evening. Marcos Giron is set to play Facunda Bagnis. Mikael Ymer will try to send Stefano Travaglia home, and Radu Albot will take on Soonwoo Kwon.
The full order of play can be found here.
Fans can access the grounds beginning at 1 p.m.