It took five sets, but the outcome was a surprise nonetheless, an unpleasant one for Australian Davis Cup player Sam Groth and a pleasant one for up and comer Chris O’Connell.
O’Connell’s result should not truly surprise anyone, as the 22-year-old star of the ITF Futures circuit won five titles this year from his home base in Sydney. His success over Groth came at Melbourne Park, where a seesaw battle saw him take the first set, lose the second, win the third, lost the fourth and take the fifth to extend what could be characterised as a horror year for Groth.
The final score in O’Connell’s favour was 7 – 5, 3 – 6, 7 – 5, 4 – 6, 8 – 6.
The victory came with the additional perk of earning O’Connell a birth in the wild-card playoffs for a spot in the Australian Open in January.
John-Patrick Smith also made it into the semis for a wildcard entry in the Australian Open via his straight set win over top seed Andrew Whittington.
With top seed Whittington and second seeded Groth now eliminated, the turmoil for the main draw wildcards for the Brisbane and Sydney Internationals, along with the Australian Open, now has reached a higher level of confusion.