Sam Groth will face Rafael Nadal in the first round.
Sam Groth will face Rafael Nadal in the first round.

Groth has tough start at French Open

HE HAS won just twice on the ATP World Tour this year, and big-serving Aussie Sam Groth is at long odds to make it three in the French Open.

The world No.95 has drawn nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the first round, and to compound the challenge, Groth's preparation has been hampered by a neck injury that forced him to retire from matches twice in the past month.

But while Nadal has a mind-blowing 70-2 record in the tournament, he said he wouldn't take the New South Welshman lightly.

"He's uncomfortable for the first round. He's a difficult one," the Spaniard said. "You need to be ready to suffer a little bit during the match because I know he's going to be difficult to have breaks against."

Nadal has battled his own injury issues, but showed glimpses of his best form with titles in Madrid and Rome in recent weeks.

Australia's second-highest seeded men's player - Bernard Tomic - is a short-priced favourite to beat American Brian Baker in his first-round match.

The three other Aussie men in the main draw - Nick Kyrgios, John Millman and Jordan Thompson - were all scheduled to play their first-round matches last night. Sam Stosur, a beaten finalist in Paris in 2010, opens her campaign tonight against Japan's Misaki Doi.

Fellow Aussie Daria Gravrilova has a winnable match against unseeded Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino, while Arina Rodionova takes on Croatia's Ana Konjah.


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