Alex Bolt: 'Novak Djokovic gave me autograph before his 2007 Adelaide final'



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Alex Bolt: 'Novak Djokovic gave me autograph before his 2007 Adelaide final'

Thirteen years ago, young Alex Bolt received an autograph from Novak Djokovic ahead of the Serb's final in Auckland. In the title match, the 19-year-old Serb claimed his third ATP crown after besting the home player Chris Guccione and the Murray Bridge native wanted to chase a pro career from that moment and to compete in Adelaide one day.

This event moved to Brisbane two years later and Alex had to wait until 2020 to experience the action at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, receiving a wild card and winning two matches to reach the first ATP quarter-final.

Advancing into the third round of the Australian Open a year ago following that epic triumph over Gilles Simon, Alex is hoping for more of the same in front of the home crowd in the next couple of weeks, seeking even deeper run in Adelaide and preparing for the Australian Open where he received a wild card.

"I came here way back in 2007 when Novak Djokovic beat Chris Guccione in the final. I always dreamt of being able to play on these courts one day. All these years later, having the chance to do that is pretty cool," said Alex Bolt.

"I got Novak's autograph on one of the back courts and I'm pretty sure that was just before that final. That was about the start of Novak's rise and also seeing an Aussie as his rival in the final was pretty inspiring as well.

It made me chasing a professional career. I love it down here; it's where I grew up and spent all of my childhood. It's pretty cool being able to play in your hometown in a tournament. It's a dream come true. It's my first quarter-final of a tour event and I'm proud of how I've played so far this week.

I probably didn't hear too much from the crowd because I felt in the zone, but the support I've had from the fans the past couple of days has been unbelievable. I made a great start of the previous season but it plateaued a bit; I had a few niggles.

I wasn't playing as well as I could have the last six months of the campaign. Saying that, I feel like I knuckled down in pre-season in Melbourne. I've trained hard to get into the best possible shape. I'd have to say the standout memory was that second round with Gilles Simon at the Australian Open last year.

It was a five-set epic and it pretty much had everything, a real roller coaster it was. I remember saving the four match points in the fourth set tie-break. Coming back and winning in five, it's probably something I'll never be able to re-create on a tennis court.

I won't forget it for the rest of my life. I'm hungry for more success; I don't want that to be the best result I finish with."