Raonic Survives Groth Serving to Reach Brisbane International Semifinals

by John on January 9, 2015

Raonic v Groth

World No. 8 Milos Raonic edged Australian Sam Groth in a battle of big servers Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Brisbane International. Raonic prevailed 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 )2) in the quick-point, short-rally, heavy-hitting duel in which he was outserved — a rare feat — by the big Aussie. Groth, ranked No. 85, never faced a break point in the two-hour contest, while serving 22 aces to 15 for his opponent, and actually won four more points (99 to 95) in the nail-biter. Despite the big zero on break opportunities, Raonic proved to be the more experienced player in the two tiebreakers, cashing in on Groth mistakes and showing steady nerves in the clutch. Groth was competing in just his second career match against a Top 10 player. “I think he played better than I did, and I sort of got through with experience and sort of just grit in that match,” Raonic said. Groth had blitzed defending champion and fellow countryman Lleyton Hewitt in the opening round and survived a lengthy three-set battle with Poland’s Lukasz Kubot in the second. The big-serving Aussie was never broken in either of those two matches. Raonic, who as the No. 3 seed received a first-round bye, opened with a routine, straight-sets win over Mikhail Kukushkin. Groth fell behind 4-1 in the first-set tie-break, then rallied to save three set points before Raonic served it out. Raonic garnered mini-breaks on the third and sixth points in the third-set tie-break to seal the win. “I actually think I had the better of the match until both tie-breakers,” Groth said. “I think that’s the next step for me. Against these better guys, they don’t give you anything in the big moments. I maybe gave him one or two points. Someone with a quality serve like Milos, you can’t afford to do that.” Raonic won 81 percent of the points on his first serve and saved four of five break points, all in the second set. Groth won 78 percent of his first service points. “I was thinking halfway through the match, last year in Perth (while competing at the Hopman Cup) I swam with sharks,” Raonic reflected on court afterward. “This was a little more stressful.” The Canadian will play No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori in the semifinals.

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