Groth holds nerve to make winning start to year
TENNIS: Australian wildcard Sam Groth has put a miserable year behind him by winning his first-round clash at the Brisbane International.
The big-serving 29-year-old had a 6-3 5-7 7-5 victory over Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set up a clash with Austrian fourth-seed Dominic Thiem.
Groth started well at Pat Rafter Arena but had a shaky second set to allow his opponent back into the game.
He suffered a number of injuries last season, including having nerve issues in his arm and neck after foot surgery the previous year.
"It was a tough year last year so it's definitely nice to come back to Brisbane, a place I've enjoyed playing so much,” he said.
"To start the year with a win is a big bonus.”
Groth served up 20 aces, including one to win the match.
He said it was hard work in Brisbane but was pleased he finally got the job done.
"It was actually tough, a lot different conditions today - a lot heavier, a bit of wind actually blowing down the court,” Groth said.
"But I hit my forehand pretty well and I'm actually moving a little bit better and I'm able to get through three sets fit, which is nice.”
Destanee Aiava also had an important win in the women's singles first round.
The 16-year-old qualifier from Melbourne upset the experienced American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 2-6 6-3 6-4 to move into the second round and a match with fifth-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Earlier, Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova made the last eight with a straight-sets win over American qualifier Asia Muhammad.
Pliskova, a finalist at last year's US Open, broke five times to move through to the quarter-finals in Brisbane for the first time.
She will play the winner of the match between Roberta Vinci and Japan's Misaki Doi.
Meanwhile, Sam Stosur said there were positives to take out of her 5-7 7-6 5-7 defeat to French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.
"I think I played much, much, much better than what I played at the end of last year,” she said.
"So there's lots of positives to take from that.
"I'm really pleased with the way I played and competed and what I was able to do out there. I want to be that aggressive player.”