Marina Erakovic had to save a match point to beat Germany's Annika Beck 4-6 7-6 6-4 in the first round of the WTA tournament in Memphis today.
Ranked 71 in the world, it took Erakovic seven minutes short of three hours to beat the world No 65, but she showed gritty determination to battle through the match and advance to the second round.
It was Erakovic's first tournament back since she injured her thumb earlier this month while slipping in the foyer of a hotel in Kazakhstan when playing for New Zealand in the Fed Cup.
Although her thumb is still sore, it didn't have an effect on how she played, even though she lost the first set, dropping her serve three times compared to Beck, who dropped hers' twice.
The New Zealander got a break early in the second set and was up 4-1 at one point, but her opponent got it back to 4-4.
Erakovic was staring at defeat when Beck had two break points in the 11th game, but the German couldn't take either of them and the set eventually went to a tiebreak.
Erakovic raced out to a 5-1 lead in that tiebreak, but then lost five straight points to give Beck a match point, however, once again the 19-year-old couldn't land the killer punch and Erakovic ended up winning the tiebreak 8-6.
Erakovic, 24, got a break in the first game of the deciding set and there was one more break for each player, meaning that it's her that advances in this tournament.
This is a crucial week for Erakovic because made it to the final in Memphis last year and is defending 200 of her 885 ranking points. She will pick up 30 points for making it to the second round, but will suffer a big drop in the rankings if she fails to do as well as she did last year.
In the next round Erakovic plays the second seed Sofia Arvidsson from Sweden, who beat her in that final in Memphis 12 months ago.
- © Fairfax NZ News