Australian tennis star Sam Groth is hoping a wildcard into next month’s Sydney International proves the springboard to a grand slam seeding in 2016.
The Newcombe Medallist only missed direct entry into the Australian Open lead-up event by three rankings spots after enjoying his best-ever season on tour.
He reached the third round of two majors for the first time, taking a set off the great Roger Federer in an entertaining old-school grasscourt classic on Wimbledon’s centre court, and now has his sights on cracking the world’s top 50.
“That’s the initial goal for next year. It’s eluded me for a while,” Groth told AAP after joining top-seeded countryman Bernard Tomic in the Sydney International main draw on Wednesday.
“And after that, I don’t see why I can’t push on into the top-30 mark. I started to beat top-30 guys pretty regularly this season.”
A hero of Australia’s run to this year’s Davis Cup semi-finals, Groth had his 2015 campaign prematurely ended by a nagging foot injury.
“It had been troubling me since before Wimbledon but I pushed through it until I couldn’t any longer and ended up needing surgery,” he said.
“I ended up having a nerve cut out of my foot.”
The 28-year-old had his first hit-out since going under the knife against Lleyton Hewitt in an exhibition match in Hobart last week.
He pipped the veteran 12-10 in a third-set tiebreak.
“It was just good to get back on court and play in front of a crowd again,” Groth said.
“There’s still things to work on but getting a wildcard into Sydney is perfect preparation for the Australian Open.
“I’m starting the year in Brisbane so that gives me two full weeks of preparation.”
Groth made the last 32 at Melbourne Park this year and needs to defend the rankings points to remain on track for a new found grand slam seeding status in 2016.
“If I can get a seeding and avoid the top players in the first couple of rounds, especially at Wimbledon where the surface really suits me, I don’t see any reason why I can push into the second week and cause some real damage,” he said.