Sam Groth has claimed his first claycourt singles win on the top-tier ATP circuit, but two of his fellow Australians didn’t fare so well in Houston.
Groth, at home on the faster hardcourts and grass, accounted for Victor Estrella Burgos 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in a first-round upset at the US claycourt championships on Monday.
However, later on the same centre court, Marinko Matosevic and Lleyton Hewitt were eliminated.
Matosevic was trailing American Sam Querrey 4-1 when he retired with a foot injury.
Hewitt, the tournament’s 2009 champion, was edged out 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 by Japan’s Go Soeda.
Hewitt needed two wins in Houston to become the seventh player in the Open era to have 100 each on hard courts, grass and clay.
He was a service hold away from getting No.99 on clay before Soeda broke, won the subsequent tiebreaker, then kept the upper hand throughout the third set.
Hewitt has won 367 times on hard courts and 128 on grass. Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, John McEnroe, Stan Smith and John Alexander have previously topped 100 wins on each of the three surfaces.
Groth, meanwhile, was typically powerful on serve against the world No.56 from the Dominican Republic, racking up 17 aces on his way to a meeting with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in round two.
The 27-year-old Melburnian has recorded qualifying wins on clay and reached the French Open doubles semi-finals in 2014 but hadn’t won a singles match on the ATP World Tour.
“I’m not known for getting on clay too often, but I think I played pretty well out there,” Groth told the ATP website.
“I may have to work a few more clay events into my schedule.
“I feel like I’m serving well, and it bounces a lot higher than a hard court.
“I think that can cause guys a lot of problems.”