First round heartbreaker for Marina Erakovic

DAVID LONG IN MELBOURNE
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013
Marina Erakovic plays a backhand during her match against Alize Cornet of France.
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HEARTBREAKER: Marina Erakovic plays a backhand during her match against Alize Cornet of France.

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Marina Erakovic’s emotions were still running high two hours after she lost an epic match to Alize Cornet in the first round of the Australian Open.

The New Zealander went down 7-5 6-7 10-8 in a match that lasted two minutes short of 3 and a half hours, which was played in front of around 1000 people, crammed around every vantage point on court 13.

Reflecting on it, Erakovic knew this was a match she should have won, she served for the first two sets and had a break early in the third.

Those opportunities were all wasted, while there was some magnificent back to the wall tennis from her to hold out Cornet when she was serving for the match on three occasions.

However, she was unable to do it on the fourth time of asking and now has only the doubles to focus on at this Grand Slam.

“There were definitely chances all through the match. I fought hard but every time I had a chance I let it go,” said Erakovic.  “It was tricky with the wind and the ends were different, but I think it was nerves from both sides.

“For the first round at a Grand Slam every single person is nervous. Serena Williams says she gets nervous.

“You do your best to deal with it and I’d managed to get going in a few stages of the match, but I didn’t when it counted.”

Erakovic’s serve is usually the strongest part of her game, but in this match it was her Achilles Heel. She won only 29 per cent of the points on her second serve and coughed up 17 double faults over the match.

“Serving today was pretty bad, 17 double faults, that’s terrific,” she shrugged.

Cornet, who goes on to play Venus Williams in the second round, behaved poorly throughout the match.

She screamed at the umpire, line judges and her coach when things went against her.

In the third set almost every time a call went against her it would result in a tantrum.

“To start with it was annoying and then I realised she was doing it on purpose and I thought whatever,” Erakovic said, indicating that there’s probably no love lost between the two players.

“It was distracting at the beginning. It’s not the first time she’s done that in a match.”

When Erakovic had a bad call go against her late in the third set she made a point to the umpire about her opponent’s behaviour.

“There was a tough call towards the end and I said to the umpire that I’m not going to make a scene like her.”

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Despite the loss, it was clear to see that Erakovic is playing some good tennis again and while she will only pick up ranking point here, she should expect to see some good wins coming her way over the next few months.

Future games were not on her mind after this loss, nor was the gutsy effort in continually stopping Cornet from serving out the match. All that was bothering her was that this was a match she let slip away.

“The crucial stages were that I was serving for both sets and I played atrociously,” she said.

“The last few games in the third aren’t what decided the match, it was right from the get go.”

- Stuff

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