Likeable Sam sets sights to ace Brisbane

Australian tennis has had enough of its bad boys, but Sam Groth believes he can give it a `Mr Likeable’ to crow about this summer.

Groth, crowned the John Newcombe Medallist ahead of Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic last month, says he’s ready to make the most of his heart-warming rise from battling journeyman to tournament contender.

No longer content to make up the numbers, the big-serving 28-year-old is backing himself to start the season on fire by shaking up the Brisbane International, starting on Sunday.

Any home pressure from becoming a Davis Cup hero and Wimbledon surprise-packet in 2015 is only a positive in Groth’s eyes.

“I’m at the age when I can embrace that,” the world No.60 said. “I’ve gone through my time at the lower levels and I’ve put in the hard yards to get where I am.

“I like being at this level and being with expectation. I see it more as support – the crowd and the public getting behind me.

“I’m a likeable guy so I like to play for them at home.”

Rather than use the season-opening Brisbane tournament as an Australian Open preparation, Groth is adamant he can do real damage at Pat Rafter Arena to go far into a main draw headlined by Roger Federer.

“For me I’m not seeded in Melbourne so I could play Novak (Djokovic) or Stan (Wawrinka) or Roger first round,” he said. “I come to this tournament and conditions really suit me, the court plays fast and it’s a small-feeling court.

“I seem to serve quite well out here. I’ve played some of my best matches here.”

Among those was a first-round upset of Lleyton Hewitt 12 months ago when he blew the defending champion off the court with 14 aces.

“That was a real confidence springboard for me last year,” said Groth, whose groundstrokes have improved markedly since.

“I’ve made quarters here the last two years but I feel like I’m a much better player even from last January.

“I’m a much better all-round player.

“Guys don’t want to play me. I bring something very different.

“I mean guys have no rhythm, guys have no time – I’m coming in, I’m staying back.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!