Tennis: Erakovic's bad day at the office

Kiwi number two Marina Erakovic. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Kiwi number two Marina Erakovic. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Hometown tennis favourite Marina Erakovic was left ruing ``a bad day at the office' today after she fell in the first round of the ASB Classic singles for the first time in her career.

On an afternoon when the Auckland tournament lost its No 2 seed, China's Li Na, Erakovic went down to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-4 6-3.

It was an encounter Erakovic believed had been very winnable.

``That's how I was feeling,' she said.

``That's one of the reasons I'm really upset.'

A wildcard entry, Erakovic said she couldn't blame her preparation, which had been good.

She also declined to use an injury-plagued 2009, during which she spent March to October on the sidelines because of a hip problem, as an excuse.

It was simply a case of not playing well, she said.

``I had patches in the first set where I had chances to take control but I just let it slip and that's hard to take,' she said.

``I was not serving well, especially in that first set. Overall, it was just a bad day at the office.'

Erakovic, 21, has reached at least the second round in her previous four appearances, getting as far as the semifinals in 2008.

The result meant the end of New Zealand participation this week, with Erakovic and Slovenian partner Polona Hercog losing in their first-round doubles yesterday.

Erakovic now turns her attention to the Australian Open beginning on January 18.

Ranked 227 in the world, she has a protected ranking of 83 because of her injury playoff, allowing her direct entry into the main draw in Melbourne.

Cornet, the world No 49 who was as high at 11 last February, produced some solid and accurate ground strokes, and made fewer errors, as she wrapped up victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

She was also more secure on serve, something she was particularly pleased about because it was an aspect of her game she had worked hard on in the off-season.

While most of the fans at centre court were behind Erakovic, 19-year-old Cornet praised them for their fairness.

``The crowd was really nice,' she said.

``I've played in Italy against an Italian and it's a lot different, I can tell you. They almost kill you on the court.'

World No 15 Li's 6-1 6-3 defeat to Estonian Kaia Kanepi, an adversary ranked 43 places below her, made her the biggest casualty of the tournament so far.

The pair had met once before, at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with Li winning in three sets on the way to reaching the semifinals.

But it was largely one-way traffic this afternoon and no one seemed more surprised than Li, who rated Kanepi's weight of shot as the decisive factor.

``Everyone can see she had a huge serve and on her service game I could do nothing,' she said.

``Also she hit so hard, I couldn't control the point.'

Li is the second seed to fall, after eighth-seeded Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues was beaten by Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-3 last night.

- NZPA

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