Marc Polmans has held his nerve to claim the biggest victory and pay cheque of his career, beating Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in five sets in the opening round of the Australian Open.
Last year the 22-year-old Victorian was primed for a first round win, leading American Denis Kudla by two sets, but capitulated.
Polmans looked headed for a repeat of the heartbreak when dropped his serve while up 5-4 in the fourth set and then blew three match points in the ensuing tie-break.
But this time he regrouped to win 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 in a marathon encounter lasting four hours and 17 minutes, setting up a second-round clash with Serbian No.24 seed Dusan Lajovic.
His first major grand slam victory also guaranteed the world No.133 at least A$128,000 in prizemoney.
"I'm just happy that this year I was able to finish it in the end," Polmans said.
"It definitely started to creep in my head a little bit in the fifth set, but I knew I was playing pretty well.
"I knew he was raising his game, which was similar to what happened last year, so I just tried to lift my game in the fifth and try to close it out.'"
Polmans moved to Australia from South Africa when he was 10 and said the home town crowd had helped get him home.
"I've beaten a higher ranked player before, but on this stage in front of everyone in the Australian Open, I think that's the biggest win," he said.
Polmans is gaining a profile for his Legionnaires hat, made famous by former Czech great Ivan Lendl.
He said he'd worn it since he was eight but still got strange looks from other players on the tour. But he'd happily cop the barbs if it meant a career like Lendl.
"My parents gave it to me and I started wearing it, but I heard Lendl used to wear it in the past, so if I can have a career like him, I'll be pretty pumped."
Australian Associated Press