Australia’s singles presence at Wimbledon has swelled to 11 with the qualifying successes of men’s trio Sam Groth, Luke Saville and James Duckworth on the final day at Roehampton.
Former girls’ champion Ashleigh Barty was beaten 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 by Estonian Anett Kontaveit, and Alex Bolt also failed to advance, but Saville rallied from match point down to earn a senior debut at the All England Club after a four-hour, five-set marathon against Yann Marti of Switzerland.
Duckworth had a more straightforward passage, beating Austrian Martin Fischer 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 , while Groth needed four sets to overcome Italian 13th seed Simone Bolleli and thus successfully navigate a grand slam qualifying event for the first time.
For Saville, the former world No.1 junior and 2011 Wimbledon boys’ winner, the victory capped a week that began with an upset of top qualifying seed Thomasz Bellucci. Against Marti, Saville faced a match point in the fourth set tiebreak, and fell a service break behind in the fifth before prevailing 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 8-6 to qualify for a grand slam for the first time. He received a wildcard into the 2013 Australian Open.
“I’ve been playing great tennis all week,” Saville said. “I really like the grass. My past experience obviously at Wimbledon (juniors) and winning the Mildura Futures at the start of the year, it’s almost like a second home for me … I’m absolutely stoked right now to be honest.”
Groth bettered his last-round qualifying effort at Roland Garros on the quicker surface that suits his power-serving game far better. The Victorian reached the Nottingham Challenger final last week to reach a career-high ranking of 125th.
“This is a tournament I’ve wanted to play ever since I was a young kid … for me it’s an unbelievable feeling to qualify, not just here but for my first time ever at any grand slam, so I’m pretty happy,” Groth said.
The other Australians in the main draw are wildcard entries Nick Kyrgios and Jarmila Gajdosova, plus Casey Dellacqua, Lleyton Hewitt, Marinko Matosevic, Matt Ebden and Bernard Tomic and the sole seed, No.17 Samantha Stosur.
The 2014 draw will be conducted at 7pm, AEST.