Tennis: Erakovic in upset win at Australian Open

By Michael Brown

Marina Erakovic plays a backhand in her first round match against Sorana Cirstea of Romania during day two of the 2014 Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images
Marina Erakovic plays a backhand in her first round match against Sorana Cirstea of Romania during day two of the 2014 Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images

Marina Erakovic won her first match of the year tonight and, crucially, did it at the biggest tournament to date.

The 25-year-old ousted 21st seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4 7-6 in one hour and 53 minutes to progress to the second round of the Australian Open.

She will now play Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas and has a great chance to move to the third round at the Australian Open for the first time given Diyas, who emerged through qualifying, is ranked 152 in the world - Erakovic is currently 52.

If she can win that match, she is likely to meet 11th seed Simona Halep of Romania.

Erakovic produced a vastly improved performance against Cirstea than in her match against American Lauren Davis at the recent ASB Classic, when she was badly out of touch and admitted afterwards she struggled with the pressure of playing at home. She was also a first-round casualty in Hobart, going down in straight sets to highly-ranked Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.

Against Cirstea, Erakovic took the match to her more fancied opponent in the oppressive 41-degree temperatures. She was aggressive on the big points and held her nerve, even as she faced four set points in the second set.

"It was probably my best performance at the Australian Open so far," she said. "I knew what to expect. She hits the ball really big and I tried to dictate as much as I could. I tried to take my time with the heat and deal with it as best I could.

"I knew she was a bit nervous [at the end of the match] and was feeling it, too, and just trying to put the ball back in the court. From then on I thought, 'go on, take a chance and just go for it'.

"I wouldn't say it was my best tennis I've ever played but, mentally, I felt I really dug in and preformed at a good level."

Both players struggled to hold serve in the opening set, which saw five breaks of serve, before Erakovic closed it out when serving for the set.

The second set saw just two breaks of serve before it was decided in a tiebreaker.

Cirstea looked like she would send it into a third set when she held a handful of set points but Erakovic recovered to win the match in one of her biggest results at a grand slam.

Erakovic is also playing doubles with China's Jie Zheng and the 10th-seeded pairing will play French duo Alice Cornet and Carolina Garcia in the first round.

- APNZ

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