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Groth Upsets Defending Champion In Newport, Meets Karlovic In SFs

Newport, U.S.A.

Samuel Groth is projected to enter the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.© Ben Solomon

Unseeded Australian Samuel Groth triggered a chain reaction of milestones in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships quarter-finals on Thursday. The 26 year old upset defending champion Nicolas Mahut to secure a berth in his maiden ATP World Tour semi-final.

The victory pushes Groth into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings when the list is released next week, and guarantees the right-hander direct entry into the 2014 US Open main draw.

“I’ve got myself in great shape,” reflected Groth on his recent rise. “I’m not losing my mind out on court. I’m doing a lot of things better. I’ve tightened up my groundstrokes. I’m volleying better than I ever have. I’m making it tough for guys to break me. I’m becoming a more complete player.”

The World No. 123 edged his fourth-seeded opponent 6-3, 6-4, winning 82 per cent of his first serves and securing the two lone break points of the 77-minute contest.

"[Groth] played well today. I have to congratulate him," shared Mahut. "He was too good and too consistent for me."

The Narrandera native adds to his impressive results of late, also finishing runner-up to Nick Kyrgios in the Nottingham Challenger, and qualifying into the Wimbledon main draw (l. to Dolgopolov in the first round).

“I’ve had a great grass-court season already. I really had nothing to lose today,” said Groth. “I went out there confident. I thought I played really well.”

The fourth-seeded Mahut was bidding for his 50th win on grass in his ninth appearance in Newport. The Frenchman’s two ATP World Tour titles have come on grass (Newport and ’s-Hertogenbosch 2013).

Groth goes on to face another powerful server, second seed Ivo Karlovic, who was made to work for his first semi-final appearance at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships with a 93-minute performance against Dudi Sela Thursday. The Croat's 7-6(3), 7-5 victory puts him at 5-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Israeli.

Karlovic, who owns two grass-court titles (2007-'08 Nottingham) is bidding to reach his third final of the season having finished runner-up in Memphis (l. to Nishikori) and Düsseldorf (l. to Kohlschreiber).

"It will be a difficult match," said Karlovic about his upcoming semi-final. "[Groth] will hit a lot of aces, we'll have a couple of tie-breaks. It can go either way and hopefully it will be a nice one tomorrow."

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Guccione/Hewitt Reach SFs
Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt reached the semi-finals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Thursday after a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Divij Sharan and Donald Young.

The Australians, bidding for their first team title, were on track for an all-country semi-final with third seeds Matthew Ebden and Samuel Groth, but the latter were eliminated 6-3, 6-4 by Austin Krajicek and John-Patrick Smith in their quarter-final bout.

Jonathan Ehrlich and Rajeev Ram survived a second-set tie-break to reach the semi-finals against Thai twins Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana 7-5, 7-6(1). The Israeli-American team will face either Nicolas Mahut and Sergiy Stakhovsky or second seeds Daniel Nestor and Adil Shamasdin for a place in the final.

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© Ben Solomon

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