Fit and happy, Sam gears for Open tilt

ALBURY ace Sam Groth has slashed his weight and ranking in a comeback he hopes will take him all the way to the Australian Open.

The 25-year-old has shed almost 20 kilograms since returning to the circuit after his much-publicised marriage breakdown with fellow player Jarmila Gajdosova.

And he has cut his world ranking to 216 after it blew out to No.786.

Groth will enter Monday’s Open wildcard play-offs at Melbourne Park as the No.1 men’s seed after reaching his best world ranking of 210 last month.

“My focus is on that playoff,” said Groth, who has the world’s fastest serve of 263km/h.

“I’ve had a good year.

“Win that playoff and you take any wildcard into the Open out of the equation.

“Hopefully I can catch the eye of a few people.”

Groth must win the play-off or hope for a discretionary wildcard from Tennis Australia to gain entry to the main draw of the January 14-27 Australian Open.

Groth, who played in last year’s play-offs, enters the seven-day, 16-player knockout tournament with two Futures titles under his belt, following wins in Ipswich and Korea this year.

He said it had taken time to reshape his body after a stint with Vermont in the Eastern Football League last year.

“Being the No.1 seed means there is a bit of expectation but I’m No.1 seed because of the year I’ve had,” Groth said.

“It’s a time of year when I always seem to play pretty well.

“I only played 19 tournaments this year, which isn’t many.

“Normally when I’ve come back from trips I’ve had little niggle but I feel really good.

“It’s taken a while to get my body back in shape after footy.

“I was pretty heavy in the upper body and I’ve since lost almost 20 kilograms.”

Groth last played in the Open main draw in 2009 — on a Tennis Australia wildcard.

He lost in four sets to American Mardy Fish in the first round.

He said a year away from the circuit had helped him find a “better place personally”.

“I felt I had some unfinished business,” he said. “Having a career-high ranking was a big goal and I will take confidence from that.”

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