Tennis: Erakovic into second round

Marina Erakovic made a good start when she eased past Urszula Radwanska from Poland in her first-round match this morning. Photo / Getty Images.
Marina Erakovic made a good start when she eased past Urszula Radwanska from Poland in her first-round match this morning. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic feels most at home on the grass and she will hope that translates into a good run at this year's Wimbledon.

The 24-year-old made a good start when she eased past Urszula Radwanska from Poland in her first-round match this morning, winning 6-4 6-4 in 97 minutes, and will now face 21st seed Roberta Vinci from Italy in the second round.

A win in that match will see her equal her best result at Wimbledon, when she reached the third round in 2008, but Erakovic will want to make an impression at one of the grand slams.

The third round is the farthest the world's 49th ranked player has gone in one of the four majors and on five of her 10 appearances at grand slams she has failed to win her first-round match. Last year she progressed to the second round before being beaten by Daniela Hantuchova but went on a great run in the doubles with Thai player Tamarine Tanasugarn before they were beaten in the semifinals.

The pair will start their doubles campaign tonight when they tackle tricky Chinese combination of Jie Zheng and Shuai Peng, who beat Erakovic and her partner Monica Niculescu in the second round at the French Open recently.

Erakovic was good against Radwanska, hitting 35 winners and only 15 unforced errors, but still had to come from a break down in each set to win.

She trailed 4-2 in the first set before rattling off four-straight games and was also a break down in the second before breaking Radwanska twice to take the match. She had 11 break point opportunities in the match and converted four.

The match started in hot, dry conditions but rain soon threatened, which made the court heavier and meant Erakovic's serve didn't hold as much venom as it might normally have. She had to rely on her forehand and also tried to get to the net as often as possible.

"I felt from the first game or first few games that it was really close tennis," Erakovic said. "She was playing well and I felt our level of tennis was very high and it was very tough and I'm pleased that I got through today."

Erakovic has never played Vinci in singles and the Italian proved she is in good form with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 victory over Australian Ashleigh Barty in her first-round encounter.

Erakovic's win saw her pocket $46,000 and take her year's earnings beyond US$230,000. She has had a good year, rising to a career-high 39 in May after making the final in Memphis and semifinal in Budapest, but she had lost in the first round in four of her previous six tournaments.

A good performance at Wimbledon will also put her in a good space ahead of next month's London Olympics, which are also being played on Wimbledon.

"There's always good memories for me here at Wimbledon," she said on the eve of the tournament. "I really appreciate the history. I have always liked grass and the history here. My first coach [Chris Lewis] made the final here ... It's a special place. It's going to be interesting to have the Olympics here and everyone wearing coloured clothes, too."

- APNZ

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