Tennis: Erakovic progresses in Sydney qualifying

New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic survived another test of endurance today before advancing to the final stage of qualifying at the US$690,000 Sydney WTA event.

Erakovic faced her second epic encounter in as many days, defeating Hungarian Greta Arn 7-5 4-6 6-4 in 2 hours 45 minutes in their second round qualifying match.

The previous day Erakovic, who earlier this week lost in the second round of the ASB Classic, beat Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 5-7 6-4 6-4 in nearly two-and-a-half hours.

Erakovic is in the main draw of doubles at the Sydney tournament, partnering Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Davis Cup players Rubin Statham and Artem Sitak have had some success in the US$75,000 Challenger in New Caledonia.

The Kiwi pair excelled in the doubles, making it through to the final by beating highly ranked teams all the way. In the semifinals they accounted for top seeds Lukas Dlouhy (Czech Republic) and Jordan Kerr (Australia), winning the super tiebreak 11-9.

In the final they came up against Australia's Sam Groth and Japan's Toshihide Matsui but were beaten 7-6 1-6 10-4.

Statham and Sitak have been rewarded with a wildcard in the main draw of the next week's Heineken Open doubles, where they will play Johan Brunstrom (Sweden) and Wimbledon champion Frederik Nielsen (Denmark).

In the singles in Noumea, Statham defeated Slovakia's Ivo Klec in the first round but eventually went down to former top 50 player Adrian Mannarino of France 7-5 6-2 in the second round.

Sitak had an easy victory in the first round over Italy's Riccardo Ghedin before being beaten by fourth seed Jonathan Dasnieres De Veigy of France 6-2 1-6 7-6.

- APNZ

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