Sam Groth improved three positions on the ATP computer yesterday to tie his career-high No. 92 ranking. The big-serving Australian cracked the Top 100 for the first time in mid July after reaching the semifinals at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport. That alone would be quite an achievement for any tennis player, but especially so for the 26-year-old Groth, who less than three years ago was ranked No. 789 in the world. A career journeyman, having lost his passion for tennis and mired in an ugly divorce, Groth took an eight-month hiatus from the game in 2011 to play Australian Rules football. The tennis bug came back though as Groth returned to the courts in November of that year, having rediscovered his passion and enthusiasm for the sport. Groth stunned the tennis world in May of 2012 when he bombed a serve at a Challenger event registering 163 mph on the radar gun, shattering the previous fast serve record of 156 mph. Instant notoriety followed. Everywhere he played after that there was a buzz in the stands in anticipation of another monster bomb whenever he toed the line to serve. Still, Groth, playing mostly on the Futures and Challenger Circuits had mixed results on the court, alternating back and forth between rankings in the 200s and 100s. That is until this year when things began to come together. Groth reached the quarterfinals at the Brisbane International, won his first Challenger event at Rimouski, qualified at Wimbledon, and as a result of the aforementioned success at Newport, garnered direct entry in the main draw at the U.S. Open, where he won his first Grand Slam match. The big Aussie’s second-round match at Flushing Meadows was a doozy – prime time, under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Roger Federer. Federer won 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, but Groth more than held his own. Groth broke to lead 4-2 in the third set and twice held game points to go up 5-2 and possibly force a fourth set. But it wasn’t to be. The Melbourne resident did learn he belonged on the big stage that night, no doubt about it. Last week Groth solidified that belief in a tight loss to No. 22-ranked Tommy Robredo at the Shenzhen Open. Groth blew Robredo off the court in the opening set of their second-round encounter, yielding just four points in a 21-minute, 6-1 blitzkrieg. Clearly the most dominating set Groth has played at the Tour level. He would go on to lose the match 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, but was ever so close to forcing a second-set tiebreaker. Better than a coin flip if that happened. There’s still work to be done, but Groth, soon to be 27, has plenty of upside. After the successes and growth this year, I’d put money on Top 50 in 2015.