Paris: Jarmila Groth had a few tricks up her sleeve on Saturday when she reached the fourth round of a grand slam tournament for the first time at Roland Garros.
The Slovakia-born player who now plays under the Australian flag showed off her ambidextrous skills when occasionally switching to play left-handed during a 6-3 5-7 6-2 defeat of another naturalised Aussie Anastasia Rodionova.
“My natural is left-handed. I can do everything left or right hand, left or right foot. I’m weird, I know,” the right-hander said after progessing to the last 16 where she will face Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.
There is slightly more to her quirky game than meets the eye, however.
The 23-year-old Groth, formerly Gajdosova, who gained Australian citizenship last year after marrying Australian player Sam Groth, was born one month premature and was unable to use the right side of her body.
“My parents made me actually play right-handed when I was younger,” she explained.
“When I was born I couldn’t move my right side. I was born early and my right side didn’t function.
“So my parents got scared so they kept working with me and pressing the pressure points so my right sides are functioning. They made me be a right-hander.
“I can do anything with left or right. When I play basketball, I throw left or right. So to play a left handed shot, it’s kind of normal for me.
“My right hand it’s stronger than the left. Obviously the ball doesn’t go as fast, but I still can sort of judge it, how to lob. I can play overhead, serves. It’s not that hard.”
Groth, a wildcard into the main draw here, came close to blowing her chance when she wasted match points in the second set but she recovered her composure to take her place in the second week and now feels she can go further.
“Shvedova had been playing very well for the last couple of weeks so it’s gonna be tough,” she said. “I will run as hard as I can, try to play my game, and see if I can win. If I can I will be probably the happiest person alive.”