Murray Bridge tennis star Alex Bolt advances to second round of Australian Open after beating Norbert Gombos

Alex Bolt has advanced to the second round of the Australian Open, after defeating Slovakia's Norbert Gombos in four sets on Monday, February 8.

Heading into the tournament, Bolt was in great form, having made it to the third round of last week's Murray River Open and pushing 18th-ranked Stan Wawrinka hard.

He picked up a main draw wildcard for the Open, and in Monday's match, he took the first two sets easily, 6-2 6-2.

But Gombos pulled back and got under Bolt's skin, and won the third set, 4-6.

With the crowd behind him, Bolt got his head back in the game and came out on top in the fourth set, 6-3, to win the match and advance to the second round.

After the match, he said he was happy with the way he was playing and was pleased to get through the first round.

"It's always tricky, first match of a best-of-five set match, it's always tricky trying to stay focused for a long period of time," he said.

"I don't know what it is about it. I love playing at home," he said.

"Especially when you can get a crowd out that gets right behind you, it just gives you that added boost out on court that makes you want to try that little bit harder."

While fellow Australian John Millman had a bulk of the crowd at his match, which was at the same time, Bolt's social basketball team was there to cheer him on, along with his family.

"Not just my mates there, but I got my mum and dad flew in yesterday (Sunday) to come watch me play from Murray Bridge," he said.

"I don't get to play in front of them very often. To play in front of them here at a slam, it's really nice.

"There was a big bunch of people there towards the end of the match."

The support from the sidelines plus the great form he was in gave him real confidence heading into the Open.

"I guess the confidence is not just from pushing Stan to a long three-set match," he said.

"I have a lot of belief in my game that I can take it to a lot of these guys now that I've played a few of them over the past few years.

"I know I can stick it with them. I just can't wait to get out there and play."

Bolt will be taking on Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, ranked 21st in singles worldwide, in the second round on Wednesday.

They will play at Margaret Court Arena after the match between Ajla Tomljanovic and Simona Halep, which is at 7pm AEDT (6.30pm ACDT).

At the time of the interview, it was unclear if he would be playing against Dimitrov or Croatia's Marin Cilic, but he believed he could use the home ground advantage over either player.

"I feel like I'll be coming in as the underdog ... they'd be expected to win," he said.

"I haven't been on the ATP Tour for that long, so they wouldn't know that much about me.

"Obviously they're well-established, great players themselves.

"I mean, I'm just looking forward to the match, to be honest."

Bolt noted being on home turf helped him get over the line not only on Monday, but in previous events.

He said he struggled to transfer the great results he'd had at home to events when he's on tour, with the travel and lack of in-person support playing a role.

"Being in Australia, you've got to travel a lot of the year - it's only like a month or so a year that I can play at home," he said.

"I think the big thing is just day in, day out bringing the same energy every day.

"It's easy to do that here in Australia when I got my family and friends that are around me. Everything just feels so easy being at home."

He said it was a combination of the mental and physical sides of the game which challenged him while he was away, "but probably more mental".

"Being away from home, travelling and stuff, I mean, it is part of the job, but it does get to you at some stages," he said.

"I just haven't quite found, I guess, the right ways to deal with that properly yet."

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This story Bolt advances to second round of Australian Open first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.

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