Groth scores claycourt milestone
UPDATE: Australia's Sam Groth has claimed his first claycourt singles win on the top-tier ATP circuit with a straight-sets upset over Victor Estrella Burgos in Houston.
Update 3.45pm: Australia’s Sam Groth has claimed his first claycourt singles win on the top-tier ATP circuit with a straight-sets upset over Victor Estrella Burgos in Houston.
Suited to the faster hardcourts and grass, Groth nonetheless accounted for the world No.56 from the Dominican Republic 7-6(3) 6-4 on Monday in the first round of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.
However, later on the same centre court, Marinko Matosevic and Lleyton Hewitt were eliminated.
Matosevic was trailing American Sam Querrey 4-1 when he retired with a foot injury.
Hewitt, the tournament’s 2009 champion, was edged out 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3 by Japan’s Go Soeda.
Hewitt needed two wins in Houston to become the seventh player in the Open era to have 100 each on hard courts, grass and clay.
He was a service hold away from getting No.99 on clay before Soeda broke, won the subsequent tiebreaker, then kept the upper hand throughout the third set.
Hewitt has won 367 times on hard courts and 128 on grass. Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, John McEnroe, Stan Smith and John Alexander have previously topped 100 wins on each of the three surfaces.
Groth, meanwhile, was typically powerful on serve, racking up 17 aces on his way to a meeting with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in round two.
The 27-year-old Melburnian has recorded qualifying wins on clay and reached the French Open doubles semifinals in 2014 but hadn’t won a singles match on the surface on the ATP World Tour.
“I’m not known for getting on clay too often, but I think I played pretty well out there,” Groth told the ATP website.
“I may have to work a few more clay events into my schedule.
“I feel like I’m serving well, and it bounces a lot higher than a hard court. I think that can cause guys a lot of problems.”
Later on Monday, fellow Australians Marinko Matosevic and Lleyton Hewitt play on centre court.
Matosevic will face American Sam Querry while Hewitt battles Japan’s Go Soeda.