In this first round at Melbourne Park, Samuel Groth of Australia and Adrian Mannarino of France are set to square off, in what I can only predict, as being an encounter in which is all one-way-traffic for the Frenchman.
Groth’s whole ethos to winning is out-serving his opponent. As a tall player that is serving from a high point of trajectory, he has the luxury benefit of being able to make a high percentage of first serves. His first serve is relatively flat & the second is hit with often enough kick or slice for means of control. On the back of both aggressive serves Groth looks to come in and volley.
However when moving to do so, despite his wing-span that makes it difficult for opponents to thread passing shots, being void of hand skills means he is often forced into living extremely on the edge. Therefore when facing a good returner Groth knows he has to put even more on his second serve & this leads to double faults & those lead to him imploding mentally. Mannarino is a good returner.
Groth’s weak single-handed backhand (And limited mobility) reduces him to an incompetent returner & also fairly ineffective from the baseline when being made to go beyond three strokes in a rally. Typically speaking the shots which you are technically the weakest on, are the ones that will let you down in the moments where it matters the most, given your tightness.
This has very much proven the case with Groth & his single-handed backhand in big crux moments of matches in the past. In my opinion history is likely to repeat itself here. Mannarino is the favourite in tiebreakers for me. Groth may be tall but he is no Karlovic, Isner or Raonic. His service motion is no-where near as good & struggles to count on it as much as those guys in pressure-point-situations. His composure when stepping up-to-the-line in big moments, is erratic at best.
This all goes without even bothering to mention that Mannarino is indeed a lefty. A type of player Groth is historically horrendous against. A lefties’ natural go-to serve is the slice out-wide which skids away & changes to a low flight due to the slice. This is in the area of the right handers’ backhand & of course, Groth as we know as a right hander will therefore be dealt into using his very unstable single hander.
The proof was in last week’s pudding in Sydney where seasoned LEFTY ‘clay-court’ specialist, Federico Del Bonis, who despite barely having previously won a match on hard court in an ATP or Challenger event, beat Groth, on hard-court, in straight sets.
Mannarino’s formed into an established top 50 player that moves great & crafts the ball around the court with this lefty measure, using constant changes of spins & paces. He defends well and returns well. An extremely awkward opponent to play for many, but especially those who lack mobility & this is Sam Groth.
Groth fares best against those who struggle with their return of serve. One of Mannarino’s strengths is his return. The match-up is hugely in the Frenchman’s favour, his defence, movement and ‘feel’ for the ball will draw Groth into making far too-many errors.
Groth will go for too-much on second serve & seemingly always be one or two double faults away from being broken. Feels too much pressure against good returners, so ends up playing Russian roulette with his second serve. Double faults galore. Adrian’s sneaky tennis should prove the kryptonite & hush the ‘oy oy oy’ Aussie gums from running.
Predcition: Adrian Mannarino really should be taking this one in four, whatever the unpredictable Australian weather conditions may be.
(Betting perspective Mannarino pays at prices of 1.60 to 1.70 with various bookmakers or betting exchanges)