Tennis: Erakovic loses, set for top 40

New Zealand No 1 Marina Erakovic has bowed out at the semifinal stage of the US$220,000 Budapest Grand Prix in Hungary yesterday - but is continuing her quest for a top 40 world ranking and a seeding at the upcoming French Open.

In her first WTA semifinal on clay, Erakovic lost 6-2 6-4 to doubles partner Elena Vesnina of Russia. Vesnina, the world No 78, defeated the fifth-seeded Erakovic in a confident display of attacking clay court tennis.

"In our previous encounters, Marina played more aggressively," Vesnina told the WTA website. "Today she was trying to exploit my mistakes and move me around and play the spin. I didn't expect that but luckily I still found the key to win."

After going down easily in the first set, Erakovic dug deeper in the second but Vesnina secured a crucial break of serve in the final game of the set to close out the match.

"In the second set, we both played more rallies and longer games," Vesnina said. "There were some weird bounces, maybe by the breeze coming from the river, and I lost some concentration.

But, then, I recovered and managed to win the match."

Despite missing out on making her second WTA final of 2012, Erakovic is set to receive a rankings boost next week. Sitting at a career-high No 45 in the world, the Kiwi is expected to enter the top 40.

After Budapest she will contest WTA events in Madrid, Rome and Strasbourg before contesting the year's second grand slam event, the French Open in Paris.

Meanwhile, as New Zealand's few international tennis players ply their trade on the world circuit, Tennis Australia has announced a new training base in Munich which will give the country's top talent a European "home away from home".

The choosing of Germany as the location for the base comes on the back of Australia's Fed Cup victory over Germany in Stuttgart and Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosovic reaching the quarter-finals of the BMW Open in Munich.

"The central location and perfect training facilities at BTV TennisBase in Munich make it an ideal European training base for both our juniors and tour professionals," said Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia's Director of Tennis. "This European summer we will have more than 50 players - from National Academy and AIS athletes, Davis & Fed Cup players and wheelchair athletes - using these great facilities for training blocks between tournaments and grand slam preparation."

The facilities include four clay courts and five indoor hard courts, a fully equipped gym, football pitch, running track, indoor basketball courts, indoor swimming pool, onsite accommodation and cafeteria, all with easy rail access to Munich..

Mark Edney, Tennis Australia's AIS & Tours Manager, spent six months researching suitable facilities and said: "The most important aspect of finding a home base in Europe was to have the most professional and disciplined training environment for our elite players. This is the first time Tennis Australia has truly had a 'home base' with the facilities to service all our players, from elite juniors to professional."

- Herald on Sunday

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