Erakovic stumbles, goes out to Robson

JUSTIN PALMER
Last updated 07:12 30/06/2013
Marina Erakovic
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GOING OUT: Marina Erakovic missed a chance to serve for the match, then lost eight straight games to Laura Robson.

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Marina Erakovic has crashed out at Wimbledon after serving for the match against British hope Laura Robson.

New Zealand number one Erakovic had the third round match in her grasp at 6-1, 5-4 but succumbed to the pressure coming from the partisan home crowd in London and lost the next seven games in succession and eventually fell 1-6, 5-7, 3-6 in 115 minutes at a sunbaked court two.

Aucklander Erakovic, the world No 71, had shocked the world No 38 by cruising to a 6-1 first set in just 22 minutes. The next set went with serve until what looked like the crucial break to make it 4-2 in Erakovic's favour. The 25-year-old Kiwi even had new balls to serve out the match but Robson conquered her nerves and took control.

The match had started with the atmosphere tense as the last remaining British woman looked to be going out in quick time. One crowd member even having to be helped from her seat after being sick as the packed court tow was stunned into silence by a succession of Erakovic service and forehand winners.

The New Zealander exploited the pressure on Robson to make 91 per cent of first serves winners in the first set, where she won 11 of the first 13 points and closed it up with a cracking forehand after serving to send Robson wide.

The second set went with serve until fifth game when feeble misfires from Robson and lob and smash winners from Erakovic forced the break.

But the crowd got behind Robson and Erakovic's serve started to come under perssure for the first time as Robson's unforced errors, and Erakovic's winners, dried up.

Still, two aces and another mighty service winner helped Erakovic take her advantage to 4-2 and an ace to take it to 6-1, 5-3 saw the first emotion from Erakovic, a cry of ''c'mon''.

But the turning point came as Erakovic served for the match at 5-4 after an hour, tightened up and lost the game, which included her first double fault.

This was followed by two more on succession as she grew edgy and lost her fourth game in a row to go down 5-7 in the second set in 51 minutes.

Erakovic, who slipped on the lush court two grass several times in the second set, imploded in the third to slip to 0-4. Her coach Christian Zahalka led his usual cool slip to cry ''it's not over'' to his charge but it just about was as Robson took the decider 6-3, despite a valiant sevice break from Erakovic.

"You just have to hang in and wait for them [opponents] to start making a few errors," Robson said.

"I can definitely play better than I did today. But it's tough to play your best tennis all the time. What I've been working on is just accepting that I'm not going to play great tennis in every match.

"I might have a couple of good games here and there, but the majority of the time I'm just going to have to work on being super-consistent and go from there."

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The Briton is already guaranteed to break into the world's top 30 having equalled her best grand slam showing after reaching the last 16 at last year's US Open, although Robson said that feat was furthest from her thoughts.

"I just focus on, you know, playing my match. Things like that, things that actually matter," she told reporters.

"I mean, it's a good thing [getting into the top 30]. Hopefully, this means I'll be seeded for the US Open. But I don't go into the match thinking, 'If I win this, I'm going to be top 30'."

BONUS TERRITORY

Britain has not had a player ranked in the world's top 30 since Jo Durie in 1987 while Sam Smith was the last British woman to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1998.

Robson said that in terms of the career stretching before her she was in "bonus" territory at this stage.

"I'm going to be playing for like another 10 years, so it's all bonuses for now."

-Fairfax NZ and Reuters

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