A lifelong dream will become a reality for Thirroul’s Blake Mott on Tuesday afternoon when the promising talent makes his Australian Open debut.
Just days after cementing his spot at his maiden major tournament through a tense qualifying campaign, the 20-year-old will face-off against French 18th seed Richard Gasquet at Melbourne Park.
Mott could barely contain his excitement.
"It's amazing stuff," he said after sealing his spot.
“To be playing in my first grand slam in my home country where I grew up playing tennis, watching on TV all those years – this is truly special."
Mott’s road to his major debut hasn’t been an easy one.
He walked away from the sport a little more than 18 months ago and worked as a labourer with his father in Melbourne.
The stint off the court helped put the fire back in Mott’s belly to chase a career as a professional.
Since returning, his world ranking has risen by nearly 500 spots to 284th in the world. The biggest rankings jump came in February last year when the talented right-hander won his first professional title by claiming the $75,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Launceston.
He continued to play futures tournaments throughout 2016 before turning his focus to qualifying for the Australian Open towards the end of last year.
A victory 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 over Irishman James McGee in the final round of qualifying saw Mott take his place in the main draw on the weekend.
It set up a massive clash with Gasquet, which will undoubtedly be one of the biggest of Mott’s young career.
Even if he doesn’t progress through the first round encounter, he will pocket a cool $50,000 in prize money.
Meanwhile, Shellharbour’s Ellen Perez will start her women’s doubles campaign on Wednesday.
Perez, who was knocked out in the first round of the US Open Singles last year, will play with fellow Australian Olivia Tjandramulia in a match against Japanese duo Eri Hozumi and Miya Kato.
A student at the University of Georgia, Perez narrowly missed out on qualifying for the singles draw.