Under an injury cloud and facing the greatest claycourter of all time, Sam Groth may appear to be on a hiding to nothing at the French Open.
But it is nine-times champion Rafael Nadal who says he's
preparing to suffer in order to overcome the powerful Australian this
When Nadal's name flashed up alongside Groth's at the
tournament draw on Friday, big-serving Groth was handed the toughest of
The horror draw piles on the pain for Groth, who is
entering the second grand slam of the year with a blocked nerve in his
neck that has twice forced him to retire from matches in the past month
and has hampered preparations.
Unquestionably, Groth will start as
an enormous outsider in the first-round clash against the crowd
favourite at Roland Garros, where the 14-time grand slam champion Nadal
happily says he feels at home.
But the former world No.1 was also not thrilled with the first round matchup, insisting it presents a banana slip opportunity.
"He's uncomfortable first round. He's a difficult one," Nadal explained.
"I've got to be ready for suffering a little bit during the match because I know it's going to be difficult to have breaks.
"But I hope to stay focused mentally and to compete well."
duo have nevered clashed in competition before, but Nadal immediately
knew what to look out for when asked about Groth's strengths.
"He has a huge serve," the Spanish fourth seed said.
has endured a mixed 2016 to date, reaching the second round of
tournaments on just two occasions - at the Australian Open in January,
and more recently at the Miami Masters.
By contrast, Nadal has
titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo - modest results by his standards,
but enough to give him confidence heading into their showdown.
"I am well into 2016 now, and I played a few good events in a row, so I hope to continue playing well here," Nadal said.
all my goal: keep going the same way that I am playing, and if it's
possible to play even a little bit better and better.
"But I'm happy the way I have played since Indian Wells ... I need to just keep going."