Erakovic wins maiden title

Marina Erakovic has finally broken through on the women's tennis circuit, winning the Memphis WTA tournament this afternoon. Photo / Getty Images.
Marina Erakovic has finally broken through on the women's tennis circuit, winning the Memphis WTA tournament this afternoon. Photo / Getty Images.

Marina Erakovic has ended a long personal wait - and an even longer drought for her country - by winning her first WTA event in the United States today.

The New Zealand No 1 finally broke through on the women's tennis circuit, winning the Memphis WTA tournament for her first career singles victory.

In the process, Erakovic became the first New Zealander to win a WTA title since Belinda Cordwell in 1989 - the year after Erakovic was born.

The 24-year-old has previously won seven doubles titles but, despite making two previous finals including last year in Memphis, she had never made it over the last hurdle.

That all changed today, though there was a bittersweet element to her victory. German opponent Sabine Lisicki came into the match having been sick for three days and, after Erakovic took the first set 6-1, Lisicki was forced to retire.

Erakovic, ranked 71st in the world, admitted Lisicki's retirement was unfortunate but she wasn't about to let that get in the way of her elation - and relief - and having earned her maiden title.

"First off, I'm just really happy,'' Erakovic said during the post-match presentation. "A lot of work and effort has gone into this. I'd like to thank my family ... and I would like to thank my coach Chris [Zahalka].''

In addition to the $48,000 prizemoney and the Tennessee-themed trophy which resembled a cross between a guitar and a tennis racquet, Erakovic revealed one more reward for her win.

"We have been together for a few years now and we do a really good job,'' Erakovic said of Zahalka. ``We have a good time and we made a bet that if we win a WTA title we are going to jump out of a plane.''

That's something Lisicki is unlikely to be doing in the near future, with the world No 40 explaining the reason for her retirement on Twitter following the match.

"Very sad that I had to retire in the final as I've been sick last 3 days. Gave it all I had,'' she wrote. "Congrats to Marina for a great week and her 1st title!''

The German may have been confident of claiming victory were it not for illness, especially after beating Erakovic in three sets earlier this month, but the Kiwi has played good tennis this week in Memphis.

She beat last year's champion Sofia Arvidsson en route to the final, avenging last year's defeat at the hands of the Swiss, while she also eliminated American world No 66 Jamie Hampton.

Erakovic's breakthrough win should boost her world ranking into the mid-60s, short of the high of No 39 she achieved last May.

- APNZ

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