Jason Kubler has continued his stunning career renaissance with the late-blooming former junior world No.1 finally notching his maiden Australian Open win.
Kubler outclassed Argentine Sebastian Baez - a player ranked 40 spots above him at No.44 in the world - 6-4 6-4 6-4 on Monday to join fellow Australian Olivia Gadecki in the second round.
The watershed win comes 13 years after Kubler debuted at Melbourne Park as a 16-year-old prodigy described as a "right-handed Rafael Nadal" before a succession of knee injuries threatened to cruel his career.
Kubler made the mixed doubles final and the men's doubles third round at Melbourne Park before enjoying a breakout grand slam season last year.
He reached the second week at Wimbledon and was Australia's last man standing at the French Open, while also making the second round at Flushing Meadows for a second time.
"To be able to win (here) for the first time in singles is super great but also I feel like I'm carrying a bit of the momentum from last year and I feel really proud of myself that I was able to win on the singles court," he told reporters.
"I'm proud of myself. I wasn't sure last year if I'd be in this sort of situation.
"With my year last year, I was able to win a round at the French, win a round at the US Open and have that pretty special run for me at Wimbledon as well.
"So it's kind of cool now, just almost the last four grand slams that I've been able to win a match in the main draw.
"So if anything, I'm more proud of that."
Lleyton Hewitt had dubbed the 29-year-old a "dangerous floater" in Melbourne after Kubler upset top-40 rivals Dan Evans and Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the season-opening United Cup in Sydney.
His latest victory presents the one-time self-confessed tennis battler with a golden opportunity to live up to Hewitt's billing against Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov on Wednesday.
With little to lose, Kubler is guaranteed yet another rankings rise into the world's top 80 for the first time even if he's defeated by the 2022 US Open semi-finalist.
But given his recent form and fitness, Kubler is hopeful of bringing down Khachanov.
"Honestly I'm very happy that I've done 18 months now injury free so I hope I continue that," he said.
"I want to go out there and try my best and, if the opportunity comes, I can take it.
"That's sort of how I've been playing the last probably 12 months - try as hard as I can and if anything comes up, I'm going to take it."