Tennis: Erakovic can't stand the heat at Aus Open

By Michael Brown

Marina Erakovic's singles campaign at the Australian Open is over. Photo / Getty Images.
Marina Erakovic's singles campaign at the Australian Open is over. Photo / Getty Images.

Two days ago Marina Erakovic produced one of her best performances of her career but followed it up today with one of her worst.

The New Zealand No 1 was ousted from the second round of the Australian Open by Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-0 in only 74 minutes.

It was a massive opportunity missed by Erakovic.

Diyas is ranked 152 in the world, 100 places lower than the Kiwi, and came through qualifying. It was also Diyas' first appearance at a grand slam tournament and the 20-year-old has spent most of her career playing in the second-tier ITF circuit after an unspectacular junior career.

Erakovic might not have a better chance to progress to the third round of the Australia Open, especially after she toppled 21st seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4 7-6 in her first outing. The 25-year-old labelled that performance her best in Melbourne but quickly followed that high with one of her lows _ one of her goals for this year was to be more consistent.

Last year she had a great chance to progress to the fourth round of a grand slam tournament for the first time when but went down to Great Britain's Laura Robson after serving for the match in the second set.

Today's match against Diyas started in sweltering 39-degree temperatures on Court 13 and had risen to 41 an hour later and it seemed to adversely affect Erakovic more than her opponent. She appeared to be a little unstable on her feet at times and her mother left the stands midway through the match to seek shade.

Diyas also played near the top of her game, hitting a high number of winners (27) off both her forehand and backhand and often clipping the line.

The first set was close before Erakovic was broken twice in two weak service games _ she broke back immediately after the first _ but Erakovic unravelled in the second set to tamely yield 6-0.

She struggled with her serve, getting only 50 per cent of her first serves in, and also failed to take advantage of her chances, converting only one of 10 break point-opportunities throughout the match.

The result continued a poor start to 2014. She was badly out of touch against Lauren Davis in the first round at the ASB Classic and afterwards admitted she struggled with the pressure of playing in Auckland, and was also ousted in the first round in Hobart by Kirsten Flipkens. She also lost both her first-round doubles matches at both tournaments.

She has a chance to go deeper in the doubles in Melbourne and together with China's Jie Zheng will take on the French pairing of Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia later today. Erakovic and Zheng are seeded 10th in the women's doubles.

Fellow Kiwi Michael Venus and Indian partner Yuki Bhambri will tomorrow take on 10th seeds Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Romania's Horia Tecau for a place in the third round of the men's doubles.

- APNZ

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