Sam Groth has staged a spirited fightback to save Australia’s blushes on day one of the US Open in New York.
Groth clawed his way from a set and a service break down to be leading Alexandr Dolgolpov two sets to one – 4-6 6-1 7-5 – before the Ukraine retired injured.
While Groth advanced to a second-round meeting with veteran Spanish seed Tommy Robredo, all four other Australians in action on the opening day crashed out.
Unable to capitalise on Maria Sharapova’s injury-enforced withdrawal, Daria Gavrilova fell 6-2 4-6 7-5 to Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina to follow Casey Dellacqua, Matt Ebden and John Millman out of the Flushing Meadows exit gate.
Gavrilova had drawn Sharapova but was instead pitted against a young lucky loser ranked almost 100 places below her at No.133 in the world.
But after overcoming a hamstring strain and one-set deficit to charge to a 3-1 lead in the decider, Gavrilova ultimately paid the price for having her scheduled first-round encounter moved from Armstrong Stadium to court 11.
With no Hawk-Eye available on the outside court, the 21-year-old was livid at being unable to challenge a call when a framed forehand winner from Kasatkina flew over her head to break Gavrilova for 6-5 in the third set.
Gavrilova was adamant the ball was out.
“There’s a freaking mark. Everybody can see it,” she protested to the chair umpire.
Alas, there was no replay and Kasatkina duly served out the match to progress to the second round.
The shattering defeat was an opportunity lost for Gavrilova, whose draw had opened up big time following the shock departure of a raft of seeds on Monday.
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.
Dellacqua faces a rankings dip after being unable to defend the truckload of points accrued in 2014, but was philosophical in defeat.
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.