'Perfect Christmas present': Alex Bolts into Australian Open

Alex Bolt can spend the next month preparing for the Australian Open, with Tennis Australia handing him a wildcard into the 2018 tournament.

On Sunday, Bolt was beaten in the wildcard playoff final by 18-year-old talent Alex De Minaur.

The 24-year-old South Australian was hampered by a back problem in the four-set loss, his fourth best-of-five-set match in a week.

Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, who was sitting in the stands for each of Bolt's matches during the playoff, said he'd seen enough to decide Bolt was worthy of a wildcard.

"He competed hard at the AO playoff and had a consistent year, which is evident in his rapid rise up the rankings," Hewitt said.

Bolt qualified for his first Australian Open in 2017, when he was beaten in the first round by Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Bolt. Image: Getty

He used that result as a springboard into his best season, improving his world ranking more than 400 places to sit as world No.190 at year's end.

"It's the perfect Christmas present for me, a wildcard into the Australian Open," Bolt said.

"I can't wait until January to hit the courts of Melbourne Park again.

"I'm feeling great with my tennis and I'm very happy with how 2017 has gone, and look forward to an even bigger and better 2018."

Bolt joins wildcard recipients De Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis and direct entrants Nick Kyrgios, Matt Ebden, John Millman and Jordan Thompson as Australians locked in for the first-round draw.

Tennis Australia has two further wildcards to hand out - with an obvious name in former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic to consider.

Tomic declined to enter last week's playoff but will attempt to qualify next week for his home tournament, the Brisbane International.

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