Groth’s serving up more tennis court success
SAM Groth, nicknamed the Narrandera Express because of his thunderbolt serves, displayed nerves of steel to move into the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International with a hard-fought 6-4 6-7 7-6 win over Poland's Lukasz Kubot.
While not anywhere near as comprehensive as his 6-3 6-2 first-round demolition of fellow Aussie and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt, it was another step towards rebuilding his career and proving to everyone he was much more than just the fastest server on the planet.
The Aussie showed off his heavy artillery against Hewitt with regular serves around the 230kmh mark, but against Kubot he was forced to go deeper into his armoury to win the big points against a player on the comeback trail after three months out with a foot injury.
"He (Kubot) has reached the quarters of Wimbledon, been in the top 40 and played in finals," said Groth after his win, which puts him in a clash with Canadian Milos Raonic who blew past Kazakhstan's Mikail Kukushkin 6-3 6-4 in an hour.
Raonic is ranked number eight in the world, presenting Groth with the chance to push his own ranking of 85 considerably higher with an upset.
The Canadian notched a first career win over Roger Federer last year, and also ended Nick Kyrgios' fairytale Wimbledon run in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, a slick Maria Sharapova was brutal as she cruised through her clash with Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3.
The match provided a measure of revenge for the Russian who lost to the 26-year-old from Las Palmas last year.
"I certainly know that she's capable of playing really well; plays defence great and makes you hit a lot of balls," Sharapova said.
"Especially on a slower court like here, you just don't want to give her that much time."
The No.1 seed has yet to be pushed in the tournament and will be a heavy favourite to beat Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals.
Despite dropping just five games, Sharapova bristled when asked whether having easy matches was a good preparation for the business end of the tournament.
"If I wanted to I could make it tougher on myself," she fired back.
"When you step out on to the court you don't think about making it tougher for yourself.
"I've had a lot of tough matches last year, a lot of three-setters, probably more than any other year in my career, so I know how to play those."