What a difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago, Alex de Minaur fled to his base in Spain and switched off social media to escape the tennis bubble after an abdominal tear dashed his Australian Open dreams.
The injury sent him spiralling into the darkest period – albeit a brief one – of his professional career.
Fast-forward to the present and a fit-again de Minaur is back to his best, feeding off the success of his compatriots, and even talking about “conquering the world”.
The Aussie men’s No.1 – ranked 23 overall – is one of a dozen locals who advanced to the second round at Melbourne Park, where he meets Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas on Thursday.
“Tennis is an individual sport but I truly believe in what we’re doing in Australia with all the players we’ve got,” de Minaur said.
“We’ve got so many knocking on the door and so many in the top 100, so I think we’re in a great spot.
“It definitely does motivate me because I know that we’ve got all these teammates pushing top players and it’s amazing to see.
“It’s exciting times … us Aussies always tend to play really well here in Australia and now it’s time to take this momentum with us and go conquer the world.”
Not since 1992, when 15 locals progressed to the Australian Open second round, have so many snared first-up wins at their home grand slam in the same year.
Alexei Popyrin, Thanasi Kokkinakis and women’s No.1 Ash Barty, who takes on compatriot Daria Gavrilova, are among those featuring on Thursday.
De Minaur swept past outspoken American Tennys Sandgren in straight sets on Tuesday and is chasing a victory over world No.71 Cuevas that would propel him into the third round for just the second time.
Last time de Minaur went that far, he suffered a straight-sets loss to eventual runner-up Rafael Nadal in 2019.
“Cuevas is a very tough opponent, very solid. He’s going to make me play a lot of balls,” the 21-year-old said.
“It’s another tough match and similar in ways (to the Sandgren match).
“I’m going to have to try and focus on my side of the court and do what I have planned and try to execute.”