Heartbroken Ajla Tomljanovic is struggling to find the positives out of her Australian Open capitulation against world No.2 Simona Halep, saying it could "sting" for a while.
Tomljanovic took a 5-2 lead in the third and served for the match but reigning Wimbledon champion Halep steamed back to win five games in a row to secure a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory.
In a high-quality match that lasted two hours and 34 minutes, the pair went toe-to-toe on Wednesday.
The 72nd-ranked Tomljanovic used her big groundstrokes to pummel the Romanian, who was an Australian Open semi-finalist last year and finalist in 2018, but fell agonisingly short.
Ash Barty's understudy in the local ranks, Tomljanovic has long craved a big scalp and a strong performance at her home grand slam, where she's never made it past the second round.
Her best-ever showing at a major was a round-four appearance at Roland Garros back in 2014.
"It's hard to talk about it and see any kind of positives," the 27-year-old said.
"All I wanted to do was to get a win in any way, even if it was the worst tennis ever.
"I know it was a high level match but in the end I lost and that's the dominant feeling."
Tomljanovic said she felt "incredibly close" to a win, but knew that Halep, who also won the French Open in 2018, wouldn't surrender.
"She did exactly what I expected and raised her level," she said.
"I wouldn't say I have crazy regrets (or) I would do anything very different but you've got to win those four points to finish it."
Tomljanovic said she would force herself to get straight back into training to try to move on from the pain of the defeat.
"If I don't force myself to keep going and put it behind me it could sting for a while and I don't think that's a smart road to go down," she said.
"Naturally there's a reason why it should linger and affect me negatively but there's also another way to look at this. Three months ago I didn't know if I was capable of playing a match like this.
"I think there's a really good way to look at it and fingers crossed I will."
Halep, who is coached by Australian Darren Cahill, could see the match slipping away but dug in.
"It was an amazing match and she played unbelievable but I fought until the end," the former world No.1 said.
"I never gave up during the match, and that's why maybe I could win in the end."
Halep next plays Russian world No.36 Veronika Kudermetova.
Australian Associated Press