New Zealand tennis number one Marina Erakovic has contemplated retirement, but has committed to trying to return to the sport in 2019.
The 30-year-old Aucklander, who has been ranked as high as 39 in the world, hasn't played since November last year due to a lower back injury with her ranking having plummeted to 526.
Erakovic has decided not to try to return to competitive tennis this year, instead focusing on getting her back 100 per cent right without undergoing surgery.
"It hindered me a lot in the last couple of years and basically I've tried to work through it this year and there has been a lot of up and downs. This year is basically out for me but there has been progress and I will be looking towards next year," Erakovic said.
Erakovic turned professional in 2005 and has endured an injury plagued career and the retirement question has been something she's thought about during her lengthy absence from the tour.
"Absolutely, of course I do - I would be crazy not to" Erakovic said. "It's been a long road obviously and it's not all fun and good stuff going on. But I feel like I was playing well last year even though I had the issues I had so it's a bit of a push pull things at the moment."
However her prolonged absence from the tennis court has also had a silver lining for Erakovic.
"This year has been great for me in a way because there hasn't been the flying, the constant travel, all the hotels and it's been great for me physically for my body to recover," Erakovic said.
When she does return to the tour, Erakovic will have to start playing at the lower tier WTA tournaments and even at ITF level to build up her ranking. She has an injury protected ranking of around 170.
"I know it will be a challenge. It will be hard but the difference for me is it's a lot different playing pain free and you can go out and play as opposed to constantly struggling and trying to fight through it. The enjoyment thing is a big thing for me," Erakovic said.
She would love to make her comeback at Auckland's ASB Classic in January where she would need a wildcard to get into the main draw. But she can't contemplate asking tournament director Karl Budge just yet.
"It will all be based on the next few months. Obviously I would love to play in Auckland it's my favourite event but I won't be making decisions for a few months."