It wouldn't come as a surprise if Kiwi tennis number one Marina Erakovic retires from tennis in the not too distance future after being the flagbearer for the sport in this country for a decade.

She has had a successful career, briefly reaching the top 40 in the world rankings in one of the few truly global sports, winning one WTA title and reaching the final in several others.

But it appears a series of injury setbacks are finally catching up with the 28 year old, who having not qualified for next week's French Open, faces an extended period off the WTA tour, plying her trade at lower tier ITF tournaments.

Her ranking is 136, and when you have been near the top, it's incredibly tough to accept having to slug it out in the tennis backwaters at great cost and little financial reward.


Her loss today in the first round of qualifying for Roland Garros must really hurt, as Erakovic battled for more than two and a half hours before succumbing 6-4 in the final set to a 22 year old who has a lot less experience than the Kiwi.

This time last year Erakovic was preparing for a first round main draw match on centre court at Roland Garros against two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, it was a match she so nearly won. A year later and she's left to contemplate playing a ITF clay court tournament in Bol, Croatia during the second week of Roland Garros.

Then it's the switch to her favoured grass culminating in an attempt to qualify for Wimbledon.

Erakovic has renowned fighting qualities and throughout her career she has fought back from adversity. She can draw inspiration from her recent performance at the WTA tournament Rabat, winning seven matches including three in qualifying to make the final.

Erakovic has almost single handedly kept tennis on the map in New Zealand, and for the sport's sake lets hope she can fight back into the top echelon of the game because there is noone else coming through. 28 is not old in women's tennis, just look at the Williams sisters and last year's US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, Grand Slam winner at 33.

Matt Brown will be in Paris covering the French Open thanks to Emirates.