Groth upbeat despite Sydney setback

Back-to-back first-round exits isn’t the ideal way to prepare for the Australian Open, but Sam Groth says he’ll still be ready for next week’s grand slam in Melbourne.

One week after bowing out at the first hurdle in the Brisbane International, the big-serving 28-year-old went down 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) to Argentina’s Federico Delbonis at the Sydney International on Tuesday night.

He sent down 16 aces, but lost points at crucial moments in both tiebreakers.

“It was only 1-2 shots in the tiebreaker that cost me and I had a break in the second set and probably shouldn’t have got broken in that first set,” Groth told AAP.

“There’s still two loose games that I can’t afford to have on my serve at the moment, and that’s just through a bit of lapse in concentration from not playing.”

Despite the disappointment of his defeat, world No. 66 Groth felt there was no shame in losing to a player ranked 14 spots above him.

“Sometimes in Australia in the summer we get caught up in Aussies having to win. But in the end that guy is still ranked above me and he’s still ranked above my career high,” he said.

“He’s a tough opponent. I had my chances tonight but I couldn’t quite get it done.”

The 28-year-old’s focus now turns to Melbourne Park, where he reached the third round last year before being eliminated by compatriot Bernard Tomic.

The New South Welshman said that while he is just three months removed from nerve surgery in his foot, he was confident of another strong showing at the opening grand slam of 2016.

“I’m ranked a lot higher this year, and I had much better year going into this year,” he said.

“But at the same time, I’m coming off an injury.

“I thought I went into Brisbane a little underdone. The foot felt good today and I thought I moved alright.

“I’ll do everything I can to prepare for Melbourne now. You’re hopeful with a little luck in the draw – you never know who you’re going to play. But I’ll do a lot of work between now and then. I’ll be ready.”

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