Erakovic-Ivanovic shape as doubles pair to fear

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2013
Ana Ivanovic
Reuters
STAR ATTRACTION: Ana Ivanovic.

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It could be a dream team. The local favourite and main attraction.

Kiwi tennis star Marina Erakovic is thought to have secured an ace doubles partnership with Serbian sensation Ana Ivanovic at next month's WTA tournament in Auckland.

Erakovic is sponsored by the Seeds Foundation - a not-for-profit incorporated society that supports New Zealand's emerging tennis talent. The Sunday Star-Times understands at a recent Seeds function she let slip her likely doubles partner would be Ivanovic, world No 16 and tournament second seed.

"Marina is a player that's in demand for doubles," tournament director Karl Budge said. "She's a very strong doubles player. I'm not surprised to hear that."

Erakovic is ranked 28 in doubles. Together with regular partner, Zimbabwean Cara Black, Erakovic reached three WTA doubles finals since May and also made the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Black, however, is not expected in Auckland, leaving Erakovic, a sought-after doubles figure, a free agent.

Ivanovic's ripping forehand and Erakovic's swift reactions at the net could mount a serious challenge for the doubles title.

"I know Ana is going to play doubles here," Budge said. "She's not as renowned for doubles as other players. That's because she's focused on singles so much. With her forehand and her serve she should be a very good doubles player.

"If she did partner with Marina, with her ability at the net, that would be a formidable combination.

"We're always happy to see the local go well."

Erakovic will face competition from the world's best doubles player and tournament top seed, Roberta Vinci. There is a possibility the Italian could team up with Russian fifth seed Elena Vesnina.

"We could have two or three of the best doubles teams in the world playing," Budge said. "That would be pretty impressive."

Players are free to choose their doubles partners. An official announcement will be made on December 28.

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