Sam Groth Edges Gerald Melzer in Second Round Clash at Canberra Challenger

by John on January 11, 2017

Sam Groth tennis matches are not things of beauty. Mostly they’re affairs of smash and bash. Wednesday afternoon was no exception. The big-serving Australian battled gusty winds, 97 degree temperatures and an in-form Gerald Melzer, as well as his temper, to defeat the second-seeded Austrian 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the second round of the Canberra Challenger. The win was the second come from behind victory of the week for Groth. Monday he fought off match point against Vijay Prashanth of India to win in three sets. Melzer, ranked No. 84 in the world and younger brother of Jurgen, was coming off an impressive performance at Doha last week after giving Andy Murray a major scare in a second-round loss. Groth appeared out of sorts for most of the first two sets, perhaps frustrated by the wind , but also the smooth, lefthanded service delivery of Melzer. The big Australian was spraying balls all over the court and never even had a sniff of an opportunity to break serve. Groth did serve well enough to stay in it, though, except for the seventh game of the first set when three misssed volleys and a double fault led to the only break of the set. Both players held serve through the first nine games of the second set. Groth earned his first break point opportunities in the 10th game, cashing the second one to even the match at a set apiece. As if flipping a switch, the third set featured a different Groth. The Australian’s shots started to land in. Hitting winners off both wings, Groth broke in the fourth game and jumped out to a 5-2 lead. Melzer saved a match point in the eighth game, leaving it to Groth to serve for the match. With the wind gusting, Groth squandered the opportunity, double-faulting three times and dropping serve. A subsequent racket smashing led to a code violation for Groth. The Narrandera native steadied his nerves to force a tiebreaker. He played it superbly with two mini-breaks to seal the unforeseen win in two hours and 11 minutes. “It was tough conditions today, really gusty with the wind and not easy to control the ball but thankfully I managed to get over the line,” Groth said. “I felt like he had the momentum in the match until that last service game in the second set and I felt like I really swung it around.” Both players served 11 aces, but Groth had 10 double faults to four for Melzer. Groth saved two of four break points, Melzer three of five. The Australian will now face Israeli Dudi Sela, the No. 8 seed, for a spot in the semifinals and hopefully keep his temper in check. “I try not to break too many rackets, it’s not ideal but I had to let a bit of frustration out,” Groth said. “It’s better letting it out I think than carrying it and end up losing the match.”

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