After a tough second half of 2021, a new year is delivering a renewed Alex de Minaur.
COVID-19 ruled de Minaur out of the Tokyo Olympics, while the 22-year-old was knocked around by the lingering effects of the virus.
Consequently, a rough run of results saw de Minaur's ranking drop from No.15 in June to No.34 at year's end.
But some gritty performances in November's Davis Cup, followed by a tough pre-season in Spain has put de Minaur in a position to thrive come the Australian summer.
He did just that by knocking off world No.7 Matteo Berrettini in a stand-out return to form at the ATP Cup, on his home court in Sydney earlier this month.
"It (the ATP Cup) was very important. It's no secret that last year I had a little bit of a slump after COVID. Didn't have the results I wanted to. Confidence-wise I was a bit low," de Minaur told reporters.
"I felt as soon as I was able to kind of put that year behind me, even Davis Cup, I was able to really turn a corner both mentality-wise and kind of confidence-wise.
"I was able to have two battles out there. I was able to bring out a part of me that I had forgotten about for a while.
"After that we were able to get straight back onto the practice court, have a very tough pre-season.
"It's just great to see the hard work paying off at the ATP Cup, coming out and playing some great tennis against quality opponents, starting off my Aussie summer very well.
"It's a very good feeling, a very good confidence boost coming into the Open."
The Australian No.1's best results at Melbourne Park were third-round appearances in 2019 and 2021.
De Minaur played down his expectations of bettering that.
"It's always the goal to go deeper and deeper, keep achieving more goals," he said.
"But, yeah, like any other year, I'm taking it very slowly, step by step, trying to focus on myself.
"I know my level's there, so it's just about stepping out on court and showing that."
De Minaur will kick off his campaign against world No.59 and 2019 Australian Open junior champion Lorenzo Musetti, who is making his Melbourne Park senior debut.
"He's a quality young guy, a lot of weapons," he said.
"It's going to be a tough match. I've got to try and focus on my side of the court and do everything I've been doing as of late."
Australian Associated Press