She may be more than 11,500 kilometres from Melbourne, but Ellen Perez has taken a huge step towards qualifying for the Australian Open.
The Shellharbour athlete claimed a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 win over American Caroline Dolehide in Dubai on Sunday night (AEDT).
It was a see-sawing singles battle. After claiming the first set and leading 4-2 in the second set, Perez dropped that set. She then trailed 1-4 in the third set before fighting back to claim victory in a two-hour epic.
"I managed to sneak out a hard-fought win," Perez wrote on her Facebook page.
"Being up 4-2 in the second with a break, it was disappointing to not be able to win in two sets, but being down 5-3 doubles break in the third and turning it around makes me pretty stoked and proud."
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Australian Open qualifying continues when Perez faces another American, Varvara Lepchenko, on Tuesday.
The delayed 2021 Open is set to start in Melbourne on February 8.