Tennis: What next for Marina Erakovic?

By Kris Shannon

After her dream came true in the form of a breakthrough victory, it's back to the reality of the WTA tour for Marina Erakovic.

There were no wild celebrations after her win in Memphis on Sunday and little time to reflect on the rankings boost - just a flight to Florida for a week of training ahead of a busy couple of months.

The last week may have been the high-point of the 24-year-old's career to date, but such is the life of an athlete on the professional tennis circuit. Once one tournament is ticked off, it's time to pack the bags and head wherever the next action awaits.

For Erakovic, that means a training camp in the Sunshine State before going to California for the prestigious Indian Wells tournament early next month.

If Erakovic can continue her form at the most well-attended tennis tournament outside of the four grand slams, she would see her world ranking further improve while her bank balance will also reap the benefits.

The Kiwi No 1 has a patchy record at Indian Wells, with her opening-round loss last year her first appearance since 2009, but she will head to Southern California in high spirits.

There is also one upside to that first round exit from 2012. With the world rankings determined by a 52-week, cumulative system, a player can enhance their ranking by improving on their most recent result at a specific tournament.

As for financial incentive, just making the third round, for example, would earn Erakovic a bigger cheque than the $48,000 winner's prize she received in Memphis.

Following Indian Wells, Erakovic faces the prospect of another major tournament in Miami, where last year she made the second round before being ousted by Yanina Wickmayer.

In April it's off to Charleston, the largest women-only tournament in the world which also recruits the majority of the top-ranked players. Erakovic enjoyed some success in South Carolina last year, winning two matches en route to a third-round defeat to Serena Williams.

It all makes for a hectic stretch for Erakovic, before the clay court season starts in Europe, and one in which she will be able to test her new game against some of the world's top players.

Erakovic credited some of her victory in Memphis to a change of approach on the court, one that favoured power over finesse.

"I'm definitely trying to hit bigger shots, especially off my forehand - make it a real weapon and dictate points," she told Newstalk ZB. "And I'm trying to get more kilometres per hour on my serve as well. If I keep doing that and I keep improving, I tend to have more time and I tend to dominate on the court."

Erakovic said she wasn't a regular watcher of the world rankings, but she would have been pleased to experience a nine-place jump to No 62 following her maiden title. Her career high in No 39, something which she could approach with favourable results in the following few tournament.

- APNZ

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