Chanda Rubin floated into the tennis world's consciousness at this year's French Open as the player who, having been down 0-5, 0-40 in the third set against Jana Novotna, staved off nine match points and won in one of the year's biggest comebacks.
Then Rubin, No. 22 in the world, had a flash of fame at Wimbledon when she was one of the players involved in the longest-ever match at a Grand Slam event, 58 games, and the longest-ever final set at Wimbledon, 2 hours 4 minutes.
Then Friday night came an impressive victory over Gabriela Sabatini in the quarterfinals of the Acura Classic at Manhattan Country Club. It was an overpowering victory over the No. 3-seeded player, as Rubin, playing intelligently, strongly and never giving up, prevailed, 6-7 (0-7), 6-7 (7-3), 6-0.
"Lately, it's been going my way," said Rubin, with her knack for earnest understatement. "I feel good about that."
Hers was not the only upset of the day. In other quarterfinals Friday, unseeded Yayuk Basuki defeated fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4; top-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeated sixth-seeded Natasha Zvereva, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, and second-seeded Conchita Martinez defeated fifth-seeded Anke Huber, 6-1, 7-5.
Rubin will play Sanchez Vicario in the first semifinal today at 1 p.m., and Basuki will play Martinez at 7 p.m.
Rubin had a 4-1 lead in the first set that evaporated as Sabatini's defensive lobs began to find their mark. With Rubin claiming the net, Sabatini had little choice but to put up high balls to draw Rubin back.
Rubin's steady serve deserted her in the tiebreaker, underscored by a double fault that gave Sabatini a 4-0 lead. Rubin was unable to score a point in the tiebreaker.
Rubin rebounded in the second set, breaking Sabatini in the first game and holding in the next to get out to a 2-0 lead. Rubin had success attacking Sabatini's vulnerable second serve; in fact, each player had sporadic service trouble. There were three consecutive service breaks in the middle of the set, with Sabatini erasing her deficit.
Rubin attacked during the second-set tiebreaker and effectively negated everything Sabatini attempted. Her constant attacking contrasted Sabatini's increasingly passivity.
The same can be said of the third set. It began badly for Sabatini, who needed an injury timeout to retape her right ankle. Sabatini was unable to hold her serve in the set.
"I was surprised about that," Sabatini said. "Usually, she can play well at some moments, but not for the whole match. She has really improved her game tremendously."
Davenport ran into Basuki, the tour's current giant killer. Ranked No. 34 and small in stature, Basuki, who is Indonesian, nevertheless possesses a deft serve and persistent style.
Davenport, at No. 9, is not the first Top 10 player the 24-year-old has beaten this year. Basuki beat Sabatini earlier in a Fed Cup match.
"I have the confidence," Basuki said. "I say to myself, 'I can do it.' Otherwise, there's no way you can reach there."
Her forehand used to be thought of as Basuki's big weapon, but on Friday she unveiled a wickedly swerving serve that befuddled Davenport. Basuki had three aces in her first service game and nine in the match.
"She served really well," Davenport said. "I couldn't tell what she was going to do with it. It's hard to read."
Basuki is coached by her husband and together they have been modifying her serve.
"I've been working a lot on my serve," Basuki said. "It is not easy for everyone to kill the ball on the second serve."
Davenport's lack of patience took a toll. Her natural inclination is to crush every ball and hit the lines but there was no ending points early against Basuki, who got to almost every ball.
Davenport had an opening in the ninth game of the third set, with Basuki serving and holding one match point. Davenport kept her shots deep and Basuki was unable to hit her way out.
Basuki hit her way out of the next game, breaking Davenport's serve to win the match.