Competing in the final of the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off, world no. 311 John-Patrick Smith claimed the title for the first time, securing the main draw wild card for the first Major of the season in Melbourne next month.
The 30-year-old hasn't won an ATP match since Newport 2016, struggling to find the form in the last couple of years and finishing outside the top-300 for the first time since 2011. A left-hander from Townsville played on a high level this week, defeating Brandon Walkin, Aleksandar Vukic and Maverick Banes to reach the final at Melbourne Park, toppling Max Purcell 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to win the title and secure his first Australian Open main draw appearance since 2013.
Purcell also delivered some solid wins this week but stood no chance today, with John-Patrick controlling the pace on both serve and return to find himself over the top in straight sets, securing one of the most significant wins in the last couple of years.
Smith fended off break points in the third game and broke his rival at 15 a few minutes later to move 3-1 in front, holding at love in game nine for a 6-3 after a service winner. John-Patrick saved a break point in the second game of the second set with a volley winner, earning a break in the fifth game with a smash winner and holding in the next game with a nice serve&volley combo to move 4-2 up.
Serving at 5-4, Smith fired a service winner for another comfortable hold and two sets to love lead, moving closer and closer to the finish line. Max got broken at love at the beginning of the third set and once again at 1-3 when his forehand landed long, allowing Smith to held at love in the next game and seal the deal with another break in game seven when the youngster hit a double fault. John-Patrick has played five Grand Slam matches so far, still seeking the first victory.