Ajla Tomljanovic has powered Australia past Slovakia at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals with another dominant performance after Storm Sanders gave her country the perfect start.

Victories in both singles ensure Australia enters Thursday’s second and final group B clash with Belgium in Glasgow, Scotland knowing it will reach the semi-finals if it wins that tie.

“I think a lot of our players thrive in this environment,” Tomljanovic said.

“That kind of makes you want it even more when you’re part of a squad like that.

“For me, when I played in Perth for the first time (three years ago); it kind of opened my eyes that I never thought these weeks would mean so much to me.”

Australian captain Alicia Molik ignored the rankings when she picked Sanders for the all-important No.2 singles role, ahead of teammate Priscilla Hon.

Sanders’ stunning upset of then-top-20 Belgian Elise Mertens at this event last year was likely still fresh in Molik’s mind but most of the West Australian’s success this season was on the doubles court.

Australia had to win against Slovakia to keep alive its hopes of advancing from group play.

Sanders, whose singles ranking has slumped to No.237 after being as high as 127 in January, dropped serve in the seventh game against 146th-ranked Viktoria Kuzmova to be in danger of going a set down.

But that moment proved the trigger for the 28-year-old left-hander to raise her level, revealing afterwards she told herself it was “now or never”.

Sanders broke an increasingly error-prone Kuzmova twice in the next three games – while escaping a 0-30 game on her own serve in between – to go 6-4 up.

She then absorbed a break point at one-all in the second set with one of her eight forehand winners before snatching a 4-2 lead on her way to an impressive 6-4 6-3 triumph.

“I feel like the fact that (Molik) picked me to play does give me a lot of confidence that she believed that I could deliver today,” Sanders said.

“That was my job to go out and try and get the win for the team and I achieved that, which is great.

“I feel anyone in our team can play the singles or the doubles, which is really cool, because I think we are all ready and we all back Alicia‘s decision.”

Tomljanovic had already beaten Slovakia’s top player, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, twice this year and had few problems doing so again after some early bruising rallies.

The world No.33, who made the Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finals this year in a career-best campaign, blew Schmiedlova away in a 6-1 6-2 demolition in only 80 minutes.

Tomljanovic stumbled slightly with the finish line in sight to concede serve in the fifth game of the second set but immediately got back on track and eventually hit 13 winners to Schmiedlova’s one.

“I think starting out is always tricky. There are always a bit of nerves involved,” Tomljanovic said.

“I thought after getting that break I kind of ran with that first set, even though every game was pretty tough – it wasn’t straightforward, like, 1 and 2 (usually is).

“It was intense, and I lost my focus a little bit when I was up 3-1 (but) I just think I played the bigger points a little bit better.”

The Slovaks avoided a clean sweep when Kuzmova partnered Tereza Mihalikova to a 2-6 6-3 (10-6) win over Sanders and Ellen Perez in the doubles.

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