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January 21, 2015

Sam Groth


S. GROTH/T. Kokkinakis
3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Third round of a major how do you feel?
SAM GROTH: Pretty good. Yeah, I mean, obviously for me, you know, the journey I've taken the last two years, the last ten years, the last twenty years, it's a pretty amazing feeling.

Q. We talk about the inexperience of Thanasi. I believe this is your first match you played five sets. How was the experience? How did you feel fitness-wise?
SAM GROTH: Yeah, I thought I played good tennis in the fifth set. I knew he played a long, long match in the last one; went five sets. In the fourth set he was getting himself pretty fired up. At some stage he had to come down a little bit. When he did, I sort of pounced early in the fifth set. I'm still pretty inexperienced at this level. It's my first five-set match; my first time in the third round of a Grand Slam; it's my first time in the second round of the Australian Open. You know, I don't know, yeah, I'm inexperienced, but I'm loving every minute of it at the moment.

Q. Great crowd support out there. Did you feel that?
SAM GROTH: Yeah, it was awesome. Hard with two Aussies playing each other. Packed house. It was pretty rocking out there. It's interesting, because if you have an Aussie playing another guy, there's those lulls between points when the other guy wins a point. Today it was electric, non-stop. It was awesome.

Q. Any preference as to who you prefer to play next?
SAM GROTH: No, I'm not fussed. If I play Bernie, we have an Aussie in the fourth round. If I play Kohlschreiber, I'll just plan. I'll plan for either of them. I'm 30 minutes off the court. I'm trying to get everything done right and get myself ready for doubles tomorrow and then come back on Friday and give it everything I've got.

Q. After your five sets with him, what is your assessment with Thanasi? He's ranked 142.
SAM GROTH: Thanasi is one for the future, for sure. Rankings are a true reflection of the matches you've won. He's 142 because he has won matches that put him at 142. I'm sure he's going to move up. He's a great kid. He works hard. I like Thanasi a lot. But he's 142 because he's 142, like I'm 82 because I'm 82. There's no way around it really.

Q. You were saying the other night you felt like you belonged. Do you feel as though you belong in the second week of a slam?
SAM GROTH: Yeah, I mean, for sure. I've done the work and I'm winning matches and exactly at that point just now. You're where you win. I don't know if that makes sense. You get to where your results take you. I have the opportunity to play in the second week. So if I can win another match and get in the second week, I feel like I deserve to be there.

Q. You got asked whether you were an underdog for this match. Do you think people appreciate how well you're playing at the moment?
SAM GROTH: I think people think Thanasi is playing great, which he is. I didn't personally think I was an underdog. If you said to me two weeks ago that I would go to the Australian Open and play Thanasi in the second round, I probably would have jumped at that. It's tough. He's swinging. He's a good young guy. Nothing against Thanasi, but I'd jump at the opportunity to play a guy who is 18, ranked 142 in the second round of a slam.

Q. Do you think your experience helped you in that sense?
SAM GROTH: Maybe. I felt like I kept pretty calm the whole match. I didn't feel like I had massive ups and downs. I had a little lull at the start of the fourth set. I kept my emotions in check. I'm 27. I feel like I've matured over the last couple years. You know, like any 27-year-old, I should be starting to mature a little bit (smiling).

Q. Monster serves out there still. What parts of your game have you changed or improved to explain how well you played in the last year or so?
SAM GROTH: Obviously physically, you know, to get through five sets. I remember I played 2009 here against Mardy Fish, and I cramped at a set and 2-1. So that's a good change. I'm making a lot of returns. I'm volleying quite well. I just build a lot of pressure on guys. Even though I lost that breaker in the fourth set, after that I was holding, holding, holding. To start the fifth I put balls in the court, got to the net, did everything I needed to. He had to come up with some passes. I dug out some good volleys. I think I have got a good all-around game now and I think I pose a problem for guys because it's something they don't see. They got games where they don't hit balls on my service games. Then all of a sudden at 4-All, 5-All, if you're going to hit passes, that doesn't make it easy.

Q. Is that the advantage of the doubles?
SAM GROTH: Doubles have been good for my confidence as much as anything. Yeah, winning matches at tour level and getting my ranking up; semis at the French. In doubles I do everything in singles: I serve, volley, return. Doubles has been massive for my improvement in singles for sure.

Q. How does it compare playing against a fellow Australian, someone you're familiar with?
SAM GROTH: Yeah, I spoke to my coach before the match. A bit cliché, but you try to play the match, not necessarily the name or person at the other end. Obviously you know it's an Aussie because the crowd is going absolutely bunta out there. It's not easy. Everyone would love to see Thanasi and I both in the third round. That's the way it is. You play who you've got to play. Same if I play Bernie in the next round. I can't worry about playing Bernard Tomic. I have to worry about getting through and getting into the fourth round.

Q. You did get a little bit frustrated. Was the key getting level again, composed?
SAM GROTH: Yeah, I mean, I was maybe a touch edgy. I didn't feel like I was serving great in that first set. At the same time, you know, the old Sam probably would have lost the plot, you know. I did a bit of racquet throwing. I bounced back, played well in the second set, and went up two sets to one. The old Sam probably would have lost that fourth set and gone home. Same thing. I fought back in the fifth set. I feel like my emotional control is a massive part of my game that I improved, especially the way I was able to finish in the fifth.

Q. Are you confident you got enough fitness to handle both the singles and doubles commitments?
SAM GROTH: I have to come out and play doubles for an hour and a half, two hours, and cover half the court. Same thing: work on the things I do in singles. I'll be serving, returning, hitting first volleys. Why not do it in a competitive situation?

Q. There's a lot of excitement around Australian tennis right now. What's it like to be part of that?
SAM GROTH: It's awesome. It's so good that it's happened over this period as well because it just brings tennis to the front of everyone's mind. It's amazing for the sport. It's amazing for all the guys. I think the self-belief we've all got, you know, seeing Nick come through last year, seeing Thanasi, what he's doing, seeing Sav move up the rankings. You know, I think guys take heart from I'm doing. I've obviously got a different story than those young guys, but for me to be able to come through with the journey I've had, as well, You know. And Ducks is so close to top 100 now. He lost today, but he's probably one good week away from being inside 100. It's really exciting times.

Q. Third round of the Australian Open. It's a fair way from the reserves of Vermont.
SAM GROTH: It's a fair way from the grass courts of Corowa and Albury. I'm a country boy. I always wanted to play on the big courts. That was my dream. Now I'm living that dream.

Q. What does everyone think back home?
SAM GROTH: I think everyone is a bit pumped, a bit like I am. I hope everyone is excited. There's a lot of support. I've got about 2% left in my battery. I had 80% when I went on. I can feel it vibrating in my pocket. I got a lot of support. I'm loving it.
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