Israel’s diminutive dynamo Dudi Sela took down big-serving Australian Sam Groth 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 in the first round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., yesterday afternoon. The 5-foot-9, 144-pound Sela, a former world No. 29, has had to deal with towering big servers all year it seems, and finally he beat one. Sela has lost three times to Ivo Karlovic (6-feet-11) and twice to John Isner (6-feet-10) already in 2014. Groth goes about 6-feet-4, so maybe he isn’t towering, but he is considered the Top Gun of Fast Serve with a fastest recorded serve of 163 mph. The 29-year-old Sela is the ultimate scrapper and a human backboard. Think Americans Eddie Dibbs and Harold Soloman back in the day, or Michael Russell currently. Sela, ranked No. 88 in the world, has never won an ATP Tour championship, but has bagged 16 Challenger Tour titles. Groth, the lucky loser from the qualifier and ranked No. 96, had numerous opportunities to win the match, but was denied at every turn by the tenacious Israeli. The big Aussie raced to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, before squandering three set points, all on Sela’s serve – one in the eighth game and two in the 10th. Sela jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the tiebreaker and won it handily. Groth pressured Sela’s serve in the opening game of the second set and broke on his fourth break-point opportunity. Sela saved three break points in the fifth game, but was broken again in the ninth as Groth evened the match at a set apiece. Sela reversed the momentum immediately by breaking in the first game of the third set. Groth had two break-point chances in the next game and another in the sixth game, but couldn’t capture any of them. A second break in the seventh game gave Sela a 5-2 lead. Groth got one of the breaks back in the next game and pushed Sela to deuce twice in the 10th game before the Israeli closed it out in exactly 2 hours. Groth hit 16 aces to none for Sela, but won only four of 16 break point opportunities, while the Israeli cashed three of six. Groth won 103 points, Sela 95. “He has a very big serve,” Sela said. “But he’s serving-volleying so I have more target on the returns, so it was a little bit easier for me. He played some great games, some terrible games, and these terrible games that he played, I took my chance and broke him.” Sela plays No. 6 seed Richard Gasquet tonight in a second-round matchup.
Sela Defeats Groth in First Round of Citi Open
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