PERTH, Australia -- In her debut Fed Cup rubber, Alja Tomljanovic was tasked with taking on World no.40 Kristina Mladenovic in the opening match with team captain Alicia Molik believing she'd have the game plan to give Australia a winning start to the weekend.
Instead, the pressure was clearly too much for the 26-year-old. She was broken in the opening game of the match and won just two games across the two sets, as Mladenovic methodically dismantled Tomljanovic's game.
Most tellingly though was Tomljanovic's inability to make her first serve. Securing just 42 percent of her first serves across the match, she won just 19 points from serve (seven from her second), while she leaked seven double faults compared to Mladenovic's four.
"I think I started serving bad and then she started seeing everything," Tomljanovic said following the match. "My percentage was low from the beginning and then even when I got a couple in, she read it well. I think the serve was definitely a big factor today."
Opening the match on her serve, she secured just one first serve in the opening game, while she struggled to win any points off her second. While she brought the game back to Deuce, she was eventually broken and so began the theme of the match. Within minutes she was already 3-0 down and facing an uphill battle to turn the match around.
Following the match, she admitted that the pressure of the big stage had crippled her game and her poor start descended even further as nerves set in and Mladenovic took control of the game.
"I think it was a unique experience and feeling, I don't think I've ever felt that before. I definitely wish I could have done better with the circumstances, but the end of the day I did give my all, it just didn't really go as planned.
"It was a combination of both [Mladenovic and nerves]. I don't think I started off so bad, I didn't give her much, but I think when I gave her a little too much of a lead she just started swinging even more and I think at the end she just kind of felt like she was seeing the ball huge.
"I think today was just a combination of all of the things that happened out there that ended up with that result."
Australia captain Alicia Molik will decide if Tomljanovic will get the chance to bounce back tomorrow against Caroline Garcia, or if she will make a team change on day two. If she does get a second chance, the debutant believes she'll be able to turn her game around.
"If I'm in the position I definitely feel like I can [bounce back]," Tomljanovic said. "It's tennis anything can happen. I definitely think I would know what to expect more from what I'm feeling. I definitely hope so anyway."