Kiwi Finn Tearney may have lost today at the ASB Classic - but it feels like he found himself over the last few days at the tournament.

Turning point is an oft-used phrase in sport, but there is no doubt that the New Zealander has given himself much greater impetus for 2017 after his performances at the ASB Classic.

World No 447 Tearney went down 6-4 7-5 to Dutchman Robin Haase on Monday, but impressed with a display that belied a rankings disparity of almost 400 places.

It was the manner of his performance that caught the eye; aggressive, hustling, trying to get to the net as much as possible - a sharp difference to the stock standard baseline battles at this level of men's tennis.

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"I'm really trying to press forward and put pressure on guys," said Tearney. "That's the way I see myself going forward, as opposed to hanging back. I'm not sure where it is going to take me but I know I am going to be more successful doing that than just hanging back and rallying."

Just a few weeks ago Tearney's confidence had nosedived. He was top seed at the New Zealand Championships, but was blown away in the final by Artem Sitak, losing 6-2 6-0 in a nervy, hesitant display.

If that was a low point, this week has been a highlight. Tearney progressed through qualifying - the first Kiwi to do so since 2008 - beating World No 276 Cameron Norrie on the way.

Even though he was vastly overmatched on Monday - World No59 Haase has been ranked as high as No33 and has reached six ATP singles finals - the 26-year-old Wellingtonian continued the same proactive approach.

"[There are] still areas of improvement but I am trying to be aggressive, trying to come in and that is the way forward for me," said Tearney. "A positive step in the right direction."

Tearney went to an early 3-0 lead in the first set on Monday, but Haase was good enough to respond. His serve was a major weapon and he banged four consecutive aces - all down the middle - to close out the set.

"I wish I had that, that would be nice to be able to do that," said Tearney. "I was standing there and in about four seconds I was at the changeover - set over - after being up 3-0 10 minutes earlier."

In the second set Tearney again had a 3-0 lead - with some deft touches at the net and strong winners off the backhand wing - and had Haase under pressure at 15-40 on his serve in the fourth game.

"At that stage I was like okay, if I lose this game, this set is gone probably," said Haase.

"There were one or two great points there where I he could have finished it actually but then I managed to hold."

That was Tearney's big chance, and from there Haase turned the screws.

But it was an impressive effort from the Kiwi - much better than last year's match against Donald Young - and gives a solid platform for this year.

"I'm a bit gutted I lost but I'm happy with the tournament overall," said Tearney.

Seventh seed Steve Johnson progressed to the second round with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 victory over Stephane Robert while 2015 champion Jiri Vesely trumped Argentinean Horacio Zeballos 6-4 6-3.