Marina Erakovic admitted yesterday she struggles to cope with the pressure of playing in front of her home crowd after she was bundled out of the first round of the ASB Classic by little-known American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4.
The 25-year-old said on the eve of the tournament the Auckland event was no more important than any other on tour but it was probably more a mechanism to deal with the pressure more than anything else.
Her record since 2008, when she made the semifinals as a 20-year-old, has been poor and she's won only two singles matches at Stanley St since then. Yesterday she admitted nerves got the best of her against Davis and she struggles to overcome home expectations.
It was reflected in her play. She was awful in the first set, losing it 6-1 in only 31 minutes, as she sprayed balls around the court. She made 21 unforced errors in only seven games - an unacceptably high average of three unforced errors a game - as she handed Davis the initiative.
Erakovic was marginally better in the second set and rattled off three straight games to lead 3-2 but missed a chance to take control of the set when she had two set points to take a 4-2 lead.
Davis, who is the smallest player in the world's top 100 at just 1.57m, soon broke Erakovic and held serve to close out the match in 82 minutes.
"This tournament is very hard for me mentally and emotionally," Erakovic said. "I get very nervous and want to do very well here. I started out nervous and tried my best to get into the match but I couldn't tap into my game today and against someone like Lauren if you don't do that you're not going to win on this stage.
"I don't have that magic solution where I can kill the nerves and off I go and play.
"I said to my coach after the match I felt like I had finished the whole season in the last two months. That's how exhausted I am. But that's the way it is.
"I have been trying different things [to overcome the pressure] but it's always going to be there. I just have to know that and deal with it the best way I can. Unfortunately, it hasn't been great since 2008. In 2008 I was on the rise and swinging out with nothing to lose. Now I'm trying to perform well and it's hard. I wish I had a magic solution. I don't, obviously, but I'm going to keep working at it. I am a positive person and after a knock down I get back up and try to get things right."
Her first chance to do that will be next week in Hobart before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open. Her performance in Auckland should have little bearing on her season - she enjoyed one of her best years in 2013 when she claimed her first WTA singles title and played in another final - but it has been a constant source of frustration she's failed to succeed at home.
Ayumi Morita (JPN) bt 6-Lucie Safarova (CZE) 7-6(2) 6-3.
Ana Konjuh (CRO) bt 1-Roberta Vinci (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-2.
Julia Goerges (GER) bt 8-Karin Knapp (ITA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Lauren Davis (USA) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-1 6-4.
2-Ana Ivanovic (SRB) bt Alison Riske (USA) 7-5 7-6(2).
Sharon Fichman (CAN) bt 4-Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-1 6-4.
Sachie Ishizu (JPN) bt Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 1-6 6-3.
3-Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-4 7-5.
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) bt Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 7-6(3) 6-0.
Lucie Hradecka (CZE)/Michaella Krajicek (NED bt Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)/Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-1 6-2.
Karolina Pliskova (CZE)/Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) bt Tamira Paszek (AUT)/Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 7-5 3-6 10-7.
Sharon Fichman (CAN)/Maria Sanchez (USA) bt Paula Kania (POL)/Valeria Solovyeva (RUS) 7-5 7-6 (5).
Monia Barthel (GER)/ Megan Moulton-Levy (USA) bt Yuliya Beygelzimer (UKR)/ Maria Irigoyen (ARG) 4-6 6-3 10-8.