Dylan Alcott wins a fourth-straight wheelchair title

If you didn't know about the Dylan Alcott story before this Australian Open, you probably do now.

Already in high demand as an inspirational speaker - on top of a weekend hosting gig on youth radio station Triple J - the accomplished Paralympian has been the face of ANZ across your TV screens and at Melbourne Park.

Forget Novak Djokovic, Alcott is the man of the moment.

On Saturday the wheelchair tennis star won his fourth-straight quad wheelchair singles title at the Australian Open. The 27-year-old defeated top-seeded American David Wagner 7-6 (7-1), 6-1.

After an early battle, Alcott conceded the first point of the tiebreak but raced away with the next seven to claim the opener.

The second set was a procession, however, Alcott claiming it in 32 minutes, making just three unforced errors along the way.

Winning another title was important, but it was what happened on Friday night that was arguably more significant.

In a rare and perhaps watershed moment for Australian sports broadcasting, his singles match against close friend Heath Davidson was broadcast live on Channel Seven's main channel after the abrupt end to the Roger Federer-Hyeon Chung semi-final.

Alcott is a three-time and multiple-sport Paralympics gold medallist. But the sport in which he devotes his life to suddenly got some crucial prime-time exposure.

"Heath and I were lying on the couch in player services, going, 'God, the bloody tournament director stuffed up'. He should have put us on earlier," Alcott said.

"Then [the tournament director] comes in and goes, 'G'day boys, you're on Rod Laver Arena in eight minutes, get ready'."

Alcott loves the spotlight but what means more to him is sending out positive messages about athletes with impairments.

"I mean I love it out here. Thanks to everybody that stayed," Alcott said.

"It means the world to me to change the way people perceive people with disabilities, but also see us as athletes first and foremost who happen to be in wheelchairs.

"To get the opportunity to do that, but also do that with my best mate Heath Davidson, it was a dream come true. I really appreciate it.

"It was a bit weird when we were scheduled on court seven, imagine how weird it was when you're on Rod Laver playing against each other.

"We train together every single day at Melbourne Park. This is our home. Not even Roger Federer gets a grand slam tournament five minutes from his house.

"But I do, and I'm so lucky for that."

Alcott was born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord which was operated on during the first few weeks of his life. The tumor was successfully cut out, however it left Alcott a paraplegic, requiring a wheelchair for life.

He had some special words for his family and friends who were courtside.

"I used to get bullied as a kid. I struggled with the fact that I was in a wheelchair," Alcott said.

"But if you ask me right now if I could have an operation or stem-cell research, there's not enough money you could ever pay me because my disability has given me part of my opportunity in life. I'm proud to be disabled."

Such has been Alcott's impact on the Australian tennis community that in 2016 he beat all comers and joined the likes of Sam Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios and Sam Groth as a Newcombe Medal winner, the highest individual honour in Australian tennis.

This story Dylan Alcott wins a fourth-straight wheelchair title first appeared on The Age.