Australian qualifier Sam Groth rode his blistering serve to a 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over wild card Denis Kudla in a first-round matchup last night at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. The big-serving Aussie pounded out 20 aces and won an incredible 95 percent of the points on his first serve in winning his first tour-level match since 2009. Groth, a journeyman pro ranked No. 228, is best known for recording the fastest serve in men’s tennis — a 163 mph (263 km/h) missile at a Challenger event in South Korea a year ago May. Kudla was able to win just 16 points on Groth’s serve. ESPN tennis analyst and former player Brad Gilbert sitting courtside estimated Groth was serving in the low 150s. Groth had powered his way into the main draw by defeating American Rhyne Williams in the final round of the qualifiers on Sunday, blasting 27 aces in that match. The 25-year-old Melbourne resident has had his best year since turning pro in 2006, reaching one semifinal and four quarterfinals on the Challenger circuit. He also won a Futures grass-court title in Australia. Groth qualified for Queen’s Club in June, but lost a first-round three setter to Lukas Rosol, who shocked Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year. The one-time Aussie Rules footballer reached a career-high No. 189 ranking on April 3. After playing for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis most of July, Groth appears to be in his best form ever. Groth improved to 3-4 in tour-level matches, while winning for the first time on a surface other than grass. Tonight, in a battle of monster servers, he takes on No. 4 seed Milos Raonic of Canada.