17 January 2017 | Alex Sharp

Andrew Whittington hailed the “unbelievable feeling” of winning his maiden Grand Slam singles match on his home courts.

It’s been quite the journey for the Melburnian, who soared 400 places up the rankings in 2016.

That run earnt him a wildcard into the Australian Open, which he has clutched at with both hands to take out world No.86 Adam Pavlasek 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3.

The world No.194. capitalised upon a single break and astute forays to the net to lead 6-4, but that was mirrored by the Czech to level.

“I think that was the biggest thing for me, getting that first set under my belt. Played a really loose game in the second set to drop that. I still backed myself in my game, what I’ve done over the preseason,” stated the Melbourne Park local. “So to do it in four, not in five, was nice on the legs as well.”

Whittington regrouped in the third set and fended off four break points to dominate on serve to edge towards the second round.

No nerves were apparent, as the efficient serving continued. The 23-year-old gave nothing away and nullified any threat from Pavlasek to soak up the booming home support.

“It’s an amazing feeling. In front of your home crowd, in front of your family and friends,” declared the 23-year-old. “I can’t thank them enough for being loud and helping me through today.”

Whittington is guaranteed a bigger audience in the second round, where he’ll play 20th seed Ivo Karlovic or Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos.