Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Groth's big serve too much for Mannarino

Australian huge server Sam Groth had a great improving year in 2015 but his start to this year had been ordinary so it was important that his serve was on song today against French player Adrian Mannarino, ranked 48.  Groth made it through to the 3rd round at the Aus Open last year, hence a load of points were on the line at Hi Sense Arena in the first match on Day two.

Sam opened with a mere 231 km/h serve which was returned easily by Mannarino but the game went comfortably to Groth as too did the second to Mannarino despite one wicked forehand return from Groth. The Australian eased to a 2-1 lead and no pressure yet on either server.

Errors at the net and from the baseline had Groth in trouble at 0-40 in the fifth game as his first serve percentage dipped alarmingly.  Mannarino took the first of the break points and the lead 3-2.
A backhand down the line winner and sharp volleying set Groth up with break points and a ground shot long by Mannarino donated the return break and things were even again 3-3.

More reliable serving and crisp volleying enabled Groth to take control 4-3 but the set was still up for grabs.  A passing shot and effective attacking volleys took Groth to a break point before Mannarino steadied and levelled 4-4.

Groth looked stronger and held serve to lead 5-4 then pressed Mannarino but couldn't deny the French player from levelling at 5-5.

One set point was saved by Mannarino before the inevitable tie break.

It was pretty basic stuff early with one point going against each server and Groth was serving at 3-4. Then the fireworks.  Mannarino delivered two brilliant returns each followed by winning passing shots to bring him three set points.  Groth stepped it up by saving two with fine ground shots, the second a slashing backhand winner.

The next two points were serves from Groth at 229 and 235 km/h to give him a second set point.  This one he converted and he had the advantage 7-6 (6).

In what seemed to be a let down, Groth lost his serve and Mannarino ran out to a 2-0 lead in the second set.  However with gritty tennis and keeping more balls in play the Aussie broke back in the fifth game and from that moment controlled the set.  Mannarino lost his way, possibly from the time he disputed a call from the umpire.  Groth, sensing his opponents loss of concentration, poured on the pressure to break and lead 5-3.

Mannarino held serve but could not hold back the surge from Groth which ended with him winning the set 6-4 and threatening to win in straight sets.

The third set was rather pedestrian as both players served well enough to not excite but at least hold position until Mannarino surprised everyone with a break of the previously solid Groth delivery.

Mannarino had no trouble serving out the set 6-3 and the match was now alive.

Groth had other ideas though and his power game proved too much to handle, breaking through Mannarino for a 4-1 lead.  Two service games from Sam later the match was over - the first win for Groth since the American stretch last year.

7-6(6) 6-4 3-6 6-3

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