Now that he’s saved Australia from a dismal day-one wipeout, Sam Groth faces an even greater challenge to extend his US Open campaign.
As John Millman, Matt Ebden, Casey Dellacqua and Daria Gavrilova all fell by the wayside at Flushing Meadows, Groth staged a spirited fightback to reach the second round for the second year in a row.
The power-serving world No.55 clawed his way from a set and a service break down to head Alexandr Dolgopolov two sets to one – 4-6 6-1 7-5 – before the Ukraine retired with an elbow injury on Monday.
Groth credited his new-found grit for booking a showdown on Wednesday with wily Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo.
“The old Sam might have tapped out,” he said.
“I’m 50th in the world now and very very close to pushing inside that mark after today and one of my biggest strengths is my fight.
“I don’t give up and I don’t lose the plot anymore. I’m going to compete until the last ball’s hit.”
Groth will sure need to compete against Robredo, a six-times grand slam quarter-finalist who took out Nick Kyrgios last year and the great Roger Federer the year before.
“Tommy’s one of the most professional guys on tour. He’s been around a long time and he’s a great competitor,” Groth said.
“He’s played a lot of matches in this tournament and had a lot of great wins, so I’m going to have to play well to beat him.”
But Groth believes.
“I’ve beaten guys top 20, top 30. I’ve had three top 20 wins this year now. That gives me confidence,” he said.
Groth’s fighting win was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing opening day for Australia.
After reaching the final 16 last year, Dellacqua went down 7-5 6-2 to Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, while Bulgarian 17th seed Grigor Dimitrov outclassed Ebden 6-4 6-2 6-4 and Millman suffered a tough four-set loss to Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky.
A heavy underdog against Dimitrov, Ebden was unable to match the former Wimbledon semi-finalist from the back of the court and crashed out after one hour and 33 minutes.
Millman had four set points on Stakhovsky’s serve at 4-5 and 5-6 in the pivotal third set but was unable to convert in a 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 loss in his main-draw debut in New York.
Gavrilova was left gutted after falling 6-2 4-6 7-5 to Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina, a lucky loser ranked almost 100 places below her at No.133 in the world.