Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NorCal's Novikov earns firsts in French Open qualifying

Dennis Novikov, playing in the Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger
last September, beat fellow American Noah Rubin in the first
round of French Open qualifying. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Dennis Novikov achieved two firsts on Monday.
   The 22-year-old resident of Milpitas in the San Francisco Bay Area earned his maiden French Open victory, albeit in qualifying, and beat countryman Noah Rubin for the first time in three matches.
   Novikov, seeded No. 32, defeated the 20-year-old Rubin 6-3, 6-4 in Paris in a matchup of contrasting players.
   Novikov looks like a linebacker at 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 200 pounds (91 kilograms). Rubin, a product of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, looks like a jockey at 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 155 pounds (70 kilograms).
   Novikov had lost in the first round of three straight Challengers on clay coming into Roland Garros, where he fell in the first round of qualifying last year in his tournament debut.
   Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon junior champion, toppled then-No. 18 Benoit Paire of France in the first round of the Australian Open in January as a wild card before losing to Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
   Novikov, ranked No. 146, will face Marco Trungelliti, another 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) player who gained the second round of the Australian Open this year (as a qualifier), on Wednesday. But Trungelliti, 26, grew up on clay in Argentina and is heavier than Rubin at 172 pounds (78 kilograms).
   Trungelliti -- ranked No. 167, one spot above Rubin -- beat Matthias Bachinger of Germany 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3.
   Novikov defeated Trungelliti 6-1, 7-6 (7) in the second round of qualifying at Miami, a hardcourt tournament, in March in their only previous meeting.
   Women's qualifying at Roland Garros begins today. Kristie Ahn, a 23-year-old former Stanford star, will face Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand. Kumkhum stunned Petra Kvitova in the first round of the 2014 Australian Open.

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