Melbourne VIC 3004, Australia, 12 December 2016 | AAP/

Marinko Matosevic has let slip a golden chance to return from the tennis wilderness by losing a five-set clash to emerging talent Omar Jasika at the Australian Open Play-off.

The former top-40 player led by two sets and a break but lost his way at Melbourne Park on Monday, dumping the next seven games before falling 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Jasika, a US Open junior champion in 2014.

“I was thinking – this is it. Don’t know what to really do from here,” Jasika said, speaking of his thought process when he was down in the third set.

“Then I saw he was starting to get a bit fatigued, so I thought maybe it was starting to get a little hot for him – maybe if I stick in, try and get this game and break back, maybe (get) this set.

“I got momentum, and it really helped me in the third and the fourth set as well, and definitely in the fifth.”

In doing so, Jasika joined other first-day winners John-Patrick Smith, Gavin van Peperzeel and top-seeded Andrew Whittington in the last eight.

> READ MORE: Whittington survives in five

But third-seeded Matosevic will need to contend with qualifying for the Australian Open in January if he is to reach his first Grand Slam main draw since Wimbledon 2015.

Matosevic, who was the ATP tour’s most improved player in 2012, saw his world ranking fall as low as 435 during a difficult 2016.

The 31-year-old started confidently against the 19-year-old and looked to have the measure of Jasika, 12 years and 147 rankings places his junior.

Buoyed on by “Omar’s Army” in the crowd, Jasika drew error after error out of his opponent in the third and fourth sets before triumphing in the decider.

For more information, visit the Australian Open Play-off homepage.