Sam Groth has made a winning start to the summer of tennis after overcoming Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in their Brisbane International clash on Tuesday.
Groth had a shaky second set but recovered to win 6-3 5-7 7-5 at Pat Rafter Arena, and will ride his wildcard entry into a second-round match-up with Austrian fourth-seed Dominic Thiem.
The 29-year-old Groth is one of just three Australians left in the men’s singles draw, along with qualifier Alex De Minaur and fellow wildcard Jordan Thompson, and is looking to recover after a horror 2016 season.
“It was a tough year last year so it’s definitely nice to come back to Brisbane, a place I’ve enjoyed playing so much,” he said.
“To start the year with a win is a big bonus.
Groth’s booming serve was on point against the world No.78 Herbert, smacking 20 aces, including one to win the match.
He had his chances to wrap it up early and had break points at 5-5 in the second set but was unable to capitalise, eventually doing so in two hours and 10 minutes.
“It was actually tough, a lot different conditions today – a lot heavier, a bit of wind actually blowing down the court,” Groth said.
“But I hit my forehand pretty well and I’m actually moving a little bit better and I’m able to get through three sets fit, which is nice.”
Groth, ranked No.180 in the world, is only playing in Brisbane because a hip injury to John Millman handed him direct entry, but also has a wildcard for the Australian Open.