She may be more than 11,500 kilometres from Melbourne, but Ellen Perez has taken a huge step towards qualifying for the Australian Open.
The Shellharbour athlete claimed a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 win over American Caroline Dolehide in Dubai on Sunday night (AEDT).
It was a see-sawing singles battle. After claiming the first set and leading 4-2 in the second set, Perez dropped that set. She then trailed 1-4 in the third set before fighting back to claim victory in a two-hour epic.
"I managed to sneak out a hard-fought win," Perez wrote on her Facebook page.
"Being up 4-2 in the second with a break, it was disappointing to not be able to win in two sets, but being down 5-3 doubles break in the third and turning it around makes me pretty stoked and proud."
Australian Open qualifying continues when Perez faces another American, Varvara Lepchenko, on Tuesday.
The delayed 2021 Open is set to start in Melbourne on February 8.