AAP Tennis

Bolt ready to light up summer of tennis

By AAP Newswire

Alex Bolt is desperate for more Australian Open success this summer after thrusting himself into the spotlight at his home grand slam early this year.

The left-hander famously claimed two big scalps as a wildcard entrant, with upset wins over former world top 10 players Jack Sock (United States) and Gilles Simon (France).

Bolt rode a wave of momentum and fervent local support before eventually losing in the third round to German star Alexander Zverev.

One avenue back to the big stage was almost slammed shut at Melbourne Park on Monday, when Bolt appeared headed for a first-round exit in the wildcard play-off tournament.

The world no.160 trailed two sets to one when his opponent, in-form Blake Mott, tripped and hurt his wrist, leading to an injury-forced retirement.

An emotional Bolt felt for his close friend, with whom he shares a coach in Peter Luczak.

But the 26-year-old was relieved to get through to the quarter-finals and hoped the play-off tournament could be a springboard to bigger and better things.

He will face fellow South Australian Luke Saville on Wednesday for a spot in the last four.

Both men are three wins away from securing Australian Open wildcard entries.

"This is always the best time of year coming up, the Aussie summer, so I'm always looking forward to it," Bolt told AAP.

"I'm always confident with the way I'm playing.

"I was playing some good tennis at the start of last year and hopefully I can replicate that again this year.

"Not a lot (has changed). I just keep on keeping on, focusing day by day and trying to do the right things day in, day out."

Bolt has been hard at work with Luczak, the Polish-born Aussie who twice reached the Australian Open third round during his professional career.

"I'm working more so on my return games and making a lot more balls in the court, trying to accumulate as much pressure as possible," Bolt said.

"I feel like, with the way I'm serving, by returning better it just puts more pressure on the opposition.

"I'm practising well, I'm hitting well.

"I'll count my lucky stars (after the opening match) and see if I can go a few steps further this year."

Bolt is sporting his trademark good-luck charm - bleached-blond hair - but couldn't guarantee the eye-catching look would remain a feature of his look throughout the summer.

"I'm not sure if it's going to be around by January but if I win the playoff I might have to keep it," he said.