Tennis: I'll be aggressive, says Erakovic

By Steve Deane

Marina Erakovic's comeback match will be a highlight today. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Marina Erakovic's comeback match will be a highlight today. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Local hope Marina Erakovic and second seed Li Na will be the main drawcards on day two of an Auckland women's tennis tournament that has yet to see a truly meaningful contest.

Top seed Flavia Pennetta and third seed Yanina Wickmayer both advanced yesterday on what was a day of straight sets processions in front of a moderate ASB Classic crowd.

Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues became the first seed to exit, bundled out 6-2 6-3 by Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in the first match of the night session.

Medina Garrigues may have been seeded eighth, but her favoured surface is clay and she has a modest record in five trips to Auckland, so it was no surprise she struggled against the talented young Slovak.

In the other night game, seventh-seeded Aravane Rezai of France beat compatriot Julie Coin 6-4, 6-3.

Today, Erakovic looks to re-ignite her career after a horror 18-month spell that included a form slump then hip and ankle injuries.

With plenty of decent players but no out-and-out star in the field, a lot is riding on the 21-year-old Croatian-born Kiwi's shoulders.

The tournament could certainly do with an Erakovic charge of the type she made to the 2008 semifinals.

The rain that swirled around the venue, forcing an hour-long delay doubtless had something to do with it, but there was precious little about the tennis to get the pulse racing.

The most watchable happening was Erakovic and Slovenian partner Polona Hercog pushing the world's top-ranked doubles pair of Cara Black and Liezel Huber hard before bowing out in two sets.

Erakovic was patchy, and probably shaded by her powerful partner, but she took enough out of the match to boost her confidence for today's match with Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.

The pair have never met, but Erakovic has seen Cornet in action.

"She is a good player. She's beaten some good names ... she moves very well, she has a good head on her shoulders so it will be a good match."

Erakovic preferred to keep her tactics to herself but there was "not going to be any rocket science" involved.

"I am going to play my game, try to serve well and be very aggressive."

Rangy Belgian Wickmayer had little trouble disposing of German Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 in the day's first match.

Goerges staged a mini second-set revival to level at 5-5 after being down a break but Wickmayer broke straight back and served out her first match since having a one-year ban for contravening WADA's drug testing rules suspended pending an appeal.

"It was a tough one and I'm glad I got it done," Wickmayer said.

"It was really nice, I was really happy to play again. It has been a tough time for me so it was really nice to be on court again and competing."

Wickmayer will play Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru or British qualifier Elena Baltacha.

After surviving three-set encounters in her first two qualifying matches, Baltacha cruised past Canadian Stephanie Dubois 6-3, 6-1 to book her place in the main draw.

Others to emerge from qualifying were Romanians Edina Gallovits and Monica Niculescu and Frenchwoman Stephanie Cohen-Aloro.

Top seed Pennetta had an untroubled centre court debut, easing past American veteran Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-4.

The Italian was in fluent touch against the light-hitting Craybas, needing only 68 minutes to book her spot in the second round, where she will face Gallovits or Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.

Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova thrashed Alexandra Dulghero 6-0, 6-3, and 39-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm had a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Russian Anna Chakvetadze.

- NZ Herald

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