WEST Australian Matt Ebden will on Tuesday be gifted a belated Christmas present - a wildcard to the Australian Open.
Ebden was this celebrating Christmas on the Gold Coast with family from South Africa, Singapore and Australia when he received the call from Tennis Australia.
The main-draw guarantee comes as a bonus as Ebden prepares to take on another year, again beginning with the Brisbane International where last January he toppled Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who went on to end the year at world No. 11.
"It's a massive honour and achievement in itself and to be recognised and to be believed in by people who have been at the top of the game is something quite special," Ebden said.
"But quite honestly, my mind set sort of clicks straight over to thinking, 'Alright, well I've been given a start, now I have to go on with it'."
Ebden experienced a breakout 2010, beginning in Brisbane with the win over Melzer.
The 23-year-old was then overlooked for an Australian Open wildcard, but forced his way into the main draw through qualifiers.
Ebden's grand slam main draw debut was against flambouyant Frenchman Gael Monfils and the Australian was far from overwhelmed in his 4-6 4-6 4-6 loss.
His year that followed had him launch more than 100 rungs to hit a high of world No. 162 in August, which placed him as the nation's fourth best player on the Tour, behing Lleyton Hewitt, Peter Luczak and Carsten Ball.
"Last year, it was great to earn my spot (at the Australian Open) and it made me build a lot of character and strength in my game and as an athlete," Ebden said.
"That sort of belief and confidence, you can't get from being given a wildcard so for me to have to earn my spot last year I think was very beneficial.
"But obviously this year, I think I've had the experience, I've been training for five sets because I expect myself to be at that level, to play the grand slams.
"So I think I'm ready for it, I'm ready to get stuck in there and show my true potential."
Ebden said his performances throughout the year, and particularly the experience he gained from the Monfils match, had him setting his sights on bigger goals in his second grand slam.
"For me it starts this week with Brisbane and to be honest, for me, the goal at these tournaments is to win them and that's what I've been working on with my coach," he said.
"This year, I went through to the round of 16 (at Brisbane), so three more and I'm into the final of the tournament.
"That's where Australians want to see their players in these tournaments, they want to see them winning, they don't want to see them just in the first round.
"Come Australian Open time, with a wildcard I'll be fresh going in there, then you've got it all to play for and if I can put my best on the park, round after round, I'm confident I can match it and beat many of the guys who will be in the draw.
"It's just about getting out there and doing it."
A pleasant surprise.