By Pravin Char
LONDON (Reuters) – Japan’s Kei Nishikori produced a fine display of hard hitting from the baseline to subdue Australia’s Sam Groth 6-4 6-3 7-5 in an entertaining clash of styles in the Wimbledon first round on Monday.
The crowd on Court One was treated to a rare show of serving and volleying as Groth – with his trademark baseball cap worn backwards – charged into the net after his big first serve, which topped 140 mph on occasion.
But he could not find a way past fifth seed Nishikori’s rock-steady groundstrokes and was broken in the fifth game after a series of unforced errors that gave some indication why he is ranked more than 100 places below the Japanese player in the world rankings.
Nishikori’s first set was all about consistency, but in the second he showed his full array of shots. He broke Groth three times, passing the helpless Australian at the net time and again, down the line and cross court, with stinging forehands and backhands.
There were worrying moments for Nishikori fans at the end of the second set when he took a medical time-out and the physio came on to examine him.
He had been forced to pull out of the Halle tournament this month because of a rib injury and coming into Wimbledon said he was “not 100 percent yet”.
But the 26-year-old showed no sign of weakness in the third set as he raced into a 2-0 lead. Groth, 28, pegged him back with some big serving and deft volleying, but ultimately errors were his undoing once again.
He double-faulted twice and buried a forehand in the net as he was broken in the 12th game to lose the match.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)