Tennis: Rubin's quick route to final

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The Independent Online
reports from Eastbourne

Chanda Rubin's father is a judge. If he is as effective in his court as his daughter currently is in hers, it might be an idea to put him in charge of the OJ Simpson trial.

The 19-year-old former Wimbledon junior champion from Lafayette, Louisiana, advanced to meet the experienced Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat in the final of the Direct Line Championships today by winning 19 games in a row. The first seven were against the top seed, Kimiko Date, on Thursday, followed by yesterday's 6-0, 6-0 semi-final win in 45 minutes against the unseeded Christina Singer, of Germany.

Tauziat, who eliminated Lori McNeil - Steffi Graf's Wimbledon conqueror - in the quarter-finals, defeated Natasha Zvereva, the No 2 seed, yesterday.

So a tournament lacking star quality will be won by either the 11th seed (Tauziat) or the 13th, with pounds 49,375 for the winner and pounds 19,687 for the runner-up. Rubin's progress has been one of the week's bonuses. She is guaranteed a place in the world's top 20 on Monday, the first day of Wimbledon.

Rubin will be remembered for saving nine match points as Jana Novotna capitulated at the French Open three weeks ago. The young American, trailing 0-5, 0-40 in the third set, won, 7-6, 4-6, 8-6. She advanced to the quarter- finals, losing to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in straight sets.

The Wimbledon draw makes it possible for Rubin to meet Sanchez Vicario again in the last eight, this time on a faster surface, which may add extra zip to her impressive forehand. Anke Huber, the ninth seed, may stand in Rubin's path in the third round, though the American will not start thinking about her first round match against Ludmila Richterova, of the Czech Republic, until after this afternoon's final.

Tauziat also has an interesting Wimbledon draw. The second round could bring a contest with Mary Pierce, Canadian born, American raised, but now a French compatriot. It was on this day last year that Pierce withdrew from Wimbledon - "for reasons beyond my control."

"I play Barbara Rittner in the first round, and that's going to be tough," Tauziat said. "If I play Mary, I play her. I think I have a good chance on grass, but you never know.''

One point which appears to have been overlooked in the fuss about the new, slightly lower pressure grass-court ball, is that the women are also using it. Has it slowed them down?

"This year, I made so many winners," Tauziat said, "and I don't think the ball affected me. On grass, I don't think it's necessary to hit the ball so hard." Rubin said she could not remember what the ball was like last year. "I don't think it's a whole lot different," she said. "It's not been on my mind.''

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