Tennis: Erakovic confident ahead of French Open

New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic is feeling confident ahead of the French Open which started at Roland Garros last night.

The 24-year-old heads into a Grand Slam in the most consistent form of her career and ranked 40 in the world. She reached the semifinals in Budapest last month and earlier this month beat world number 13 Sabine Lisicki in the first round in Rome.

Erakovic takes on 1999 Junior Roland Garros champion Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain in the first round.

"I have never played her but have seen her play and she is a grinder, hits a lot of balls back, plays her heart out and clay's a good surface for her. It's a good match up for me. I will just try to go out and play aggressively, dictate with the forehand and hit some good serves.''

Erakovic is happy with her form despite an early loss in Strasbourg last week.

"I only arrived Thursday night and have been hitting. The courts here are fantastic, in good shape and the weather has been terrific for us. It's got a certain feel to it, each Grand Slam is unique and the fans here are polite.''

Her coach Christian Zahalka says Dominguez Lino is a tough customer.

"She is solid, in good shape, small in stature but grew up on clay which is her favourite surface. I think if Marina plays well she's going to win, if she doesn't play well it's going to be a complicated match.

"Marina needs to have the patience and go after it when the right opportunity arises. The bottom line is if you can be aggressive and make your shots you can finish on top.''

Erakovic and Romanian partner Monica Niculescu are 16th seeds in doubles and face the French wildcard pairing of Severine Beltrame and Laura Thorpe in the first round.

Erakovic will play Tuesday or Wednesday morning New Zealand time.

- APNZ

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