Tennis: Erakovic reaches WTA final

Marina Erakovic. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Marina Erakovic. Photo / Sarah Ivey

New Zealand No 1 Marina Erakovic is in line to claim her first career singles title after winning through to tomorrow's Memphis International final in the United States.

Erakovic, ranked No 54 in the world, today beat world No 89 Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-1 4-6 6-4 in the semifinals of the US$220,000 event to move into the final, where she will play Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson, ranked 74 in the world.

The Kiwi, who has won five WTA doubles titles, will be contesting her second career singles final after she lost to Zahlavova Strycova in the Quebec City final last year.

The 23-year-old will take confidence into the decider, given her only previous match-up with Arvidsson, at Stanford last year, resulted in a 6-2 6-1 win for Erakovic.

The Croatian-born Erakovic started strongly today, breaking Dushevina in the first game and going on to claim the first set in just 34 minutes. At 3-0 up in the second, it looked as though Erakovic would cruise into the final, but Dushevina pulled back into the match to break the Kiwi at 4-4 before wrapping up the set.

But Erakovic rallied from a break down early in the third to claim the set and the win, her fourth over the week at the indoor hardcourt tournament.

"I had a lot of chances to finish it off a lot easier, but Vera's a very good competitor and stayed tough," Erakovic said. "When I won that last point it was a lot of relief and happiness.

"I even told myself to keep focus and stay on the gas pedal - sometimes nerves get the better of you, and that's not the first time that has happened to me, but I'm glad I could regroup and win this one."

Regarding her opponent in the final, Erakovic said, "Sofia's similar to Vera. She's solid, hits a clean ball, she has won this tournament before, too. She's a very good player."

Arvidsson, who reached the final with a 6-3 7-5 win over Italian veteran Alberta Brianti, returned the compliment.

"Marina beat me easily the last time we played," she said. "She's a good player - big serve, big forehand. It's going to be a tough match but fun, too."

Whatever happens in the final, Erakovic is now set to enjoy a spike in the world rankings when they are redrawn next week, and she should near her career-high of 49 achieved in July 2008.

- APNZ

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