MELBOURNE, Australia - Jaimee Fourlis earned a wilcard into the 2018 Australian Open after beating Destanee Aiava in the final of the 18's Girls' Australian Championships on Saturday.

The World No.322, born in Melbourne, prevailed 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 after a three-and-a-half-hour thriller with Aiava, ranked 169 players above her. "I'm really happy to get the win," Fourlis said. "I just had to play my game, play solid, trust myself. My belief was really big.

"Destanee's an incredible player, I knew she was going to come out firing. I had a great game plan and I can say I executed it pretty well."  

Next month's showing will be the 18-year-old's second appearance at the Australian Open, having reached the second round in 2017, where she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova. Fourlis' only other Grand Slam experience came at this year's French Open, when she was beaten in the first round by Caroline Wozniacki.

"That experience, and winning a round, and playing a great match at the French against Wozniacki, it definitely does build and you get more confidence. I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to enjoy it, I have a Grand Slam in my backyard, I train here every day so it's unbelievable just to play in one."

Fourlis follows China's Wang Xinyu in earning a wildcard for the tournament, for which the main draw entry list was finalized this week. Aiava has a further chance to reach the event, which starts on 15 January, when she takes part in the Play-Off later this month.