Late-blooming Australian tennis star Sam Groth has cast sentiment aside to reach the Wimbledon third round for the first time.
Groth beat good friend and Wimbledon village housemate James Duckworth 7-5 6-4 7-6 (8-6) on Thursday to join Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios and Samantha Stosur in the last 32 at the All England Club.
Apart from guaranteeing himself the single biggest pay day of his career – a cheque for at least STG77,000 ($A157,300) – the victory secured Groth something money can’t buy.
The 27-year-old will likely play the great Roger Federer on tennis’s most hallowed court on Saturday with a priceless opportunity to make the second week.
Groth and Duckworth each gained direct entry to this year’s tournament for the first time and neither had made the second round.
But the experience couldn’t have been more awkward, with the pair also sharing the same coach – who was unable to watch on Thursday – and a house in London’s SW19 with Groth’s girlfriend.
“It could be a bit tense in the house the next couple of days,” Groth said beforehand.
“We travel together, we practise together and we’re good mates so in one way it’s great there’ll be an Aussie in third round.”
Great now for Groth, anyway, after the world No.69 hammered down 24 aces in what ultimately proved the difference.
Owner of the world’s fastest recorded serve, a 163mph (262.27kmh) missile launched in China in 2012, Groth was broken just once throughout the two-hour, seven-minute encounter and always had Duckworth under the pump.
Groth grabbed the only break of the opening set to go ahead 6-5.
But he had to fend off seven break points in the 12th game before finally clinching the set with an unreturnable delivery on his third set point.
The Victorian charged to a 4-0 lead in the second set, with Duckworth retrieving one break back before Groth closed it out to take a stranglehold on the match.
In a third set of few opportunities for either player, it was Groth who again won the pressure points in the tiebreaker.
Duckworth had a set point on his own serve, but put a backhand half-volley into the net.
Opportunity lost, Duckworth then netted a return as Groth sealed the most important win of his career.