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Groth handed wildcard for Australian Open

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Ben McKay

He was a second-round loser in the Australian Open playoff but Tennis Australia (TA) has handed Sam Groth a wildcard into the 2017 grand slam on the back of his Davis Cup efforts.

Groth, the 2015 Newcombe Medallist, has been granted entry into the year's first major after a season blighted by injury.

The 29-year-old found it hard to shake the effects of a foot injury that required surgery through 2016, slipping to a rankings low of world No.259 in October.

A second-tier tournament win in Las Vegas that month heralded something of a turnaround, and subsequent efforts on court and in the gym have convinced TA chiefs to award Groth the coveted wildcard.

"The end of year has gone pretty well ... I've also been able to go through a full training block and feel as though I'm definitely finding my form and confidence," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I'm really excited, and grateful to Tennis Australia, for a wildcard into the Australian Open, it's my favourite event."

TA performance boss Wally Masur said the big-serving Victorian is "fighting his way back to his best form".

"He's been great for Australia in Davis Cup, he is a real team man. This wildcard is a reward for his efforts and with a good pre-season under his belt let's hope he can take advantage of the opportunity," he said.

In the Open qualifying tournament held at Melbourne Park last week, Groth struggled to a four-hour first-round defeat of Dayne Kelly before losing in the next round to world No.239 Chris O'Connell.

O'Connell would lose his next match 6-1 6-1 6-2 to eventual playoff winner Omar Jasika.

Groth, who has been ranked as high world No.53, has four appearances in the Australian Open.

In 2015 he was knocked out by countryman Bernard Tomic and this year he was a second-round loser to eventual finalist Andy Murray.

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