Erakovic expected to advance at Australian Open

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2013
Marina Erakovic
Getty
READY TO GO: Marina Erakovic.

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Marina Erakovic enters her first round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne against Alize Cornet today as the favourite, but it is hard to get a take on how she will do.

In the past two weeks the New Zealander has won three of five matches and when she is at her best she should comfortably beat France's Cornet, ranked No 40 in the world.

The 22-year-old Cornet is a player who rarely ventures beyond the baseline and has no real weapons in her armoury.

So if Erakovic serves well - particularly with her second serve - gets her eye in for that big forehand, plays aggressively and tries to dominate the points, then she should win and set up a probable match against Venus Williams in the second round.

She is sure to have a large contingent of Kiwis supporting her for the match which should start about 3.30pm (NZ time).

But Erakovic, currently ranked No 67, does sometimes suffer from nerves when she feels the pressure from the crowd and that's something she will have to overcome quickly.

It is tough to know how well Erakovic is playing right now. A year ago she was in the best form of her life and moved to a career-high ranking of No 39 last May. But she suffered a slide later in the year and did not play again in 2012 after the US Open in September in New York, where she was forced to withdraw with a hip injury.

Assessing her five matches so far in 2013, in Auckland she beat Stephanie Dubois 6-2 6-1 and did so in a manner expected against a rival ranked No 140.

The loss to Jamie Hampton in straight sets was hard to gauge because the American looks like a player on a real charge up the rankings and she has beaten quality players like Zheng Jie, Kiki Bertens and Kaia Kanepi recently.

Erakovic then went into qualifying for last week's Sydney WTA tournament and needed three sets and more than two hours to beat Caroline Garcia and Greta Arn, two players ranked well below her. Then in the final round of qualifying she went down badly to Japan's Ayumi Morita, 6-3 6-0, to continue her shocking record against Morita.

Of their seven meetings, the only time Erakovic has won was when Morita pulled out hurt, so there is only so much that can be read into that result.

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