Groth wins Ballarat Gold

Big serving Sam Groth is the money man after blasting his way to victory at the Ballarat Open Gold Australian Money Tournament at the Ballarat District Tennis Centre yesterday.

Australian number 12 woman Viktorija Rajicic will also be the first to etch her name on the Ballarat AMT trophy as the new tennis tournament’s inaugural women’s champion.

Groth triumphed over his opponent James Lemke and brutally tough playing conditions to claim victory.

In sweltering, blustery conditions, Groth won a see-sawing struggle against Lemke 7-5 6-4 after both progressed to the grand final when their respective opponents retired injured from the two earlier semi-finals.

“They were tough conditions, that’s for sure,” Groth said.

“The court has a bit of a slant anyway and, with the wind also going that way, it was not easy.

“The match was tight. I’ve known James a long time and he is a good opponent. The wind makes it a bit of a leveller as well so the match was very topsy turvey.”

Groth, ranked sixth in Australia and 218th in the world, will now contest the Brisbane International this week before heading to the Australian Open Qualifying rounds on January 9.

He said the Ballarat AMT represented a very good way to prepare for the Australian Open qualifiers.

Groth’s semi-final opponent, 16-year-old Harry Bourchier, retired due to illness. 

Lemke’s semi-final rival Dayne Kelly, meanwhile, dropped out with an elbow complaint. 

In the women’s singles Rajicic defeated Azra Hadzic 7-5 6-1 as her opponent tired in the heat. 

Hadzic had earlier fought a gruelling three set semi-final against Ballarat player Zoe Hives, eventually winning 6-4 2-6 6-3 to progress to the decider.

Hives’ quarter final was another brutal, three-set affair, Hives triumphing 6-4 6-7 6-3 against Russian Yana Mogilnitskaya. 

In the men’s doubles, number one seeded pair Sebastian Bader from Austria and Ryan Agar from Queensland won the final 6-3 6-3 against Mitch Burman and Marshall Street.

Viktorija Rajicic, meanwhile, teamed up with sister Monika to claim the women’s doubles title 6-2 61 against another sibling act, Ashleigh and Michaela Capannolo. 

Tournament director Rob Benoit described the week’s Ballarat AMT as “a fantastic success”.

“A lot of work went into the event and we were rewarded with a quality field,” Benoit said yesterday.

Groth, pictured at the 2009 Australian Open wildcard play-offs, is set for the Brisbane International.

Groth, pictured at the 2009 Australian Open wildcard play-offs, is set for the Brisbane International.