Sad change in tournament routine for Erakovic

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 29/12/2013
Marina Erakovic
Getty Images
KIWI HOPE: Marina Erakovic.

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Marina Erakovic's New Year's Eve tradition during the ASB Classic was to spend the evening with her grandmother.

While her old friends would be out partying and the other tennis players in Auckland would be in their hotel rooms, Erakovic would be able to escape the pressure and spotlight she's under at the Classic each year and spend the evening with her nana.

But this year it will be different, as sadly, her nana passed away recently. As a result, Erakovic cut short her season to return to New Zealand.

So when New Year's Eve comes around on Tuesday, Erakovic will need a new routine.

"I would never go out on New Year's Eve because I'd have to go out to play," Erakovic said.

"So me and my nan would have a quiet night and watch some movies and have our favourite dinner.

"It is going to be a little hard this year, but that's the way it goes. She was a lovely lady and we all miss her dearly."

Although Erakovic's season ended abruptly, 2013 has been her most successful year on the circuit - 46 is her highest season-ending ranking, she won her maiden title, in Memphis, and she had the fourth-highest percentage of points won on first serve over the year.

Serena Williams won 74.7 per cent of the points from first serve, Karolina Pliskova was second with 71.9, third was Maria Sharapova on 71.5, then Erakovic on 70.9.

"It has been a good year," reflected Erakovic.

"I was looking back at it the other day. I did a skydive for the first time and I won my first title.

"I didn't have a major injury and didn't have to take any time off. So it was a really good year.

"The only sad thing is that my nana passed away and it was tough at the end of the year, but overall, it was a good one.

"I feel like I'm getting to the stage where my body can handle the stress, the match play and the fatigue on the body, which is great and it means that I'm getting stronger."

This will be Erakovic's ninth appearance at the Classic since her 2005 debut as a 16-year-old. It is something of a mixed blessing that she gets to start each year playing in Auckland.

Results are often all over the place at the start of the year as players begin with varying degrees of preparation.

Unlike other players, Erakovic can't afford to ease into a season, because the Classic is the only time she gets to play in front of her New Zealand supporters each year.

"It's tough because this is the first tournament of the year and for me it's home, so I'd like to do well here.

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"You can play all of the practice sets in the world, but it doesn't make it a proper match.

"You try your best to get those points in and play as much as you can. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well and it's like the start to every other year so far."

- Sunday Star Times

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