Sam Groth’s poor start to 2016 on the ATP Tour has continued with a first-round loss to Ukrainian world No.82 Illya Marchenko at the Memphis Open.
The big-serving Australian was never broken in the 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-2) loss to Marchenko and even saved two match points at 6-5 down in the second set, but he couldn’t do enough on return to trouble his 28-year-old opponent.
Sixth-seeded Groth won just 24 per cent of points on Marchenko’s serve and only gained one break point.
The loss is Groth’s third first-round defeat of the season after losing to Korean Hyeon Chung in Brisbane and Argentine Federico Delbonis in Sydney, before making the second round of the Australian Open.
Groth is likely to drop further down the ATP rankings, due to not defending the points he earned when he made the second round in Memphis last year.
He has already slid 17 places from world No.60 to 77 in 2016.
Marchenko faces 20-year-old Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka in the second round after he defeated fellow qualifier, American Jared Donaldson 6-3 6-4.
American fifth seed Denis Kudla and Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin were the other winners on the first day of play and will clash in round two.
Australians Matthew Ebden and John Millman will kick off their campaigns on day two.
Ebden will face 23-year-old Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen, while Millman, fresh off a quarter-final appearance in Montpellier will take on American world No.95 Austin Krajicek.