Marina Erakovic says the work she's doing on her first serve and attacking her opponent's second is paying off.
Erakovic today beat the in-form American Jamie Hampton 7-5 6-2 to advance to the semi-finals of the WTA tournament in Memphis.
The last time she went this deep in a tournament was in Budapest last April and she says one of the keys to her success has been a focus on the start of points.
"I am trying to maintain a good speed on my serve and stay loose," Erakovic said.
"At the moment I'm trying to maintain an average of 110mph (177kph) on the first serve and if I'm doing that I'm winning most of the points."
The statistics show that Erakovic is doing well with this, against Hampton she won 79 per cent of points where she got her first serve in.
What is also significant is that Hampton only won 30 per cent of the points on her second serve, indicating that Erakovic is being far more aggressive.
"For the past year I have been working on that," she said.
"I have been trying to run around and hit forehands, because a lot of girls these days don't have a good second serve and it's very attackable.
"I am very happy with today," she added about her win over Hampton.
"The match was pretty close, the first set could have gone either way. It was high quality and any loss of focus either way would have meant that that person has lost the set.
"In the second set I managed to get a breakthrough at 2-1 and was then able to hold out."
In tomorrow's semi-final Erakovic plays Stefanie Voegele from Switzerland. Voegele has a world ranking of 89, compared to Erakovic at 71 and their two previous meetings, both on clay, were won by the New Zealander.
"The last time I played her was in Bogota, Colombia (last February) and it was at high altitude, so you can scratch that one off because anything could have happened," Erakovic said.
"She is a very tough competitor, she moves well, hits the ball hard and it will be a good match. We've never played each other on hard court or indoors, so that's something new for the both of us.
"I'll have to continue what I'm doing, focus on my game and play aggressively."
As Erakovic made the final in Memphis last year she is defending 200 of her 885 ranking points. Making it to the semi-finals means she's held onto 130 of those, but if she loses to Voegele she's looking at a drop to the high 70s.
If Erakovic lost in the first round this week she may have fallen to around 100.
While she realises the importance of having a good run at this tournament, Erakovic said she couldn't get overwhelmed by the need for points.
"I am aware of it, but I'm not thinking like 'I've got to win this match otherwise I'll lose a lot of points,'" she said.
"Thinking like that really isn't beneficial, it just puts on stress. I try my best to think about my game, playing good tennis and enjoying myself.
"Life is like that on the tennis tour every week, you're going to play good or bad and the next time around you've got to defend those points.
"It is just part of the game and at the moment it's not something I wake up in the morning thinking about."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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