Sugita Beats Groth in Dunlop World Challenge Semifinals

by John on November 23, 2013

Groth @ St. Petersburg

Japan’s Yuichi Sugita defeated Aussie Sam Groth (above) 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the semifinals of the Dunlop World Challenge at Toyota, Japan, Saturday afternoon. The No. 4 seed Sugita will meet top-seeded Matt Ebden, also of Australia, in tomorrow’s season-ending final. For Groth it was the conclusion of a grueling four-week stretch of back-to-back-to-back-to-back tournaments, including last week’s final at Champaign, followed by a delayed flight to Japan from Chicago on Sunday due to tornadoes in the area. Sugita improved to 2-3 against Groth for his career. The No. 176-ranked Sugita served impeccably against the big Aussie, hitting six aces, double-faulting just once and never facing a break point. Groth had 11 aces, pushing his total to 72 for the tournament, double-faulted six times and saved one of two break points. The only break of the match came in the fifth game of the first set. Sugita will go for his third career Challenger title tomorrow and second of the year. The No. 25-year-old Japanese won at Shanghai in September. For Groth, 2013 was the best year of his career. There’s a lot more on his profile page now than just holder of the record for fastest recorded serve. The 26-year-old Groth reached five quarterfinals, two semifinals and one final while competing on the Challenger circuit. Groth also qualified for three Tour-level events, posting a 1-3 record. He took a set off Lukas Rosol at London, defeated Denis Kudla at Washington before losing to Milos Raonic in the second round, and dropped a tight three-setter to Denis Istomin at St. Petersburg. The big-serving Melbourne resident, ranked a career-high No. 183 this week, should move up to about No. 173 on Monday when the ATP rankings are updated. With improvement in his ground game and service return, Groth looks like a good bet to crack the Top 100 in the coming year.

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