Wildcard Blake Mott completed the perfect return to professional tennis on Sunday, defeating third seed Vladyslav Orlov to claim the 2019 Cairns International title.
After a tight opening set, Mott pulled away from his Ukrainian opponent to win 7-5 6-2, earning his first ITF World Tennis Tour title in eight finals attempts.
He had only won one previous professional title, at the ATP Challenger event in Launceston in 2016.
“It’s been a fantastic week,” said Mott, 23. “Just to be at the end of it, to get the title here after such a big lay-off and my first title after making so many finals. It’s pretty special.”
After stepping away from the game just over two years ago, Mott showed some of the form this week that propelled him as high as world No.220 in 2017.
“I’ve got to have some belief that my level can do some damage in these events,” he said. “I always knew that if I was in a good place mentally and my body was doing well, I could make it happen.
“I was just looking to come out here to compete and fight hard for every point. It’s a great start but it really is just the beginning of a journey back.”
Mott pointed to his renewed love of the game and enjoyment of competing again as underpinning his success in Cairns.
“The pure freshness of it, whereas back where I was last time there wasn’t really a whole lot of that,” he said. “That’s the way I keep seeing it, a fresh start and an opportunity to create a new version of myself, my game and my mindset.”