Sam Groth is the shock winner of the Newcombe Medal, Australia’s top annual tennis prize.
The big-serving 28-year-old was presented the award by John Newcombe in Melbourne on Monday night after his most consistent year in the sport.
Groth won two second-tier Challenger events, in Taipei and Manchester, and helped Australia to the Davis Cup semi-finals.
The popular Victorian also reached the third-round of a grand slam for the first time at the 2015 Australian Open.
He repeated the feat at Wimbledon, losing to Roger Federer in four sets.
Groth’s victory comes after Tennis Australia tweaked the award to include a ‘best ambassador’ focus alongside outstanding elite performance.
Fellow Australians Bernard Tomic (world No.18) and Nick Kyrgios (No.30) out-rank Groth, the world No.60, but were not nominated due to off-court indiscretions.
Three-time medal-winner Sam Stosur (world No.28) was nominated but missed out despite winning two senior-level tournaments at Bad Gastein and Strasbourg.
Newcombe praised Groth’s rise through the rankings.
“Sam’s done exceptionally well,” he said.
“He’s a tough competitor out there now. The guys hate playing him, someone who serve-volleys all the time and has some big weapons.”
Groth holds the world record for the fastest serve recorded for a 263km/h missile sent down at the 2012 Busan Open.
His win is all the more remarkable after a 2011 sabbatical from the sport, when he played amateur Australian Rules football in Melbourne.
Groth was selected ahead of fellow nominees Dylan Alcott, Casey Dellacqua, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Peers and Stosur.
He joins Stosur, who is a three-time winner, Lleyton Hewitt and last year’s recipient Kyrgios in being awarded the prize.