Marina Erakovic loses to teenager in first round

DAVID LONG
Last updated 19:30 31/12/2013
Marina Erakovic
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
NZ'S BEST: Marina Erakovic in action.

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New Zealand No 1 Marina Erakovic admits it's always going to be tough for her to deal with being the only local player in with a chance of winning a match at the ASB Classic.

Erakovic lost 6-1 6-4 to Lauren Davis from America today in the first round, meaning that it's six years since she last made it past the second round of this tournament.

Plenty of the attention goes on Erakovic before this tournament this year, it's where there is more expectation on her, but it's also the first event each season, so players are still trying to get match fitness.

The two factors have resulted in a number of disappointing performances in Auckland over the years and she admitted after her defeat yesterday that she struggles with the pressure of playing here.

"I'll be very honest, this tournament is very hard for me, mentally and emotionally," Erakovic said.

"I get very nervous, I want to do really well here. 

"I started out nervous, tried my best to get into the match but I couldn't get into the game today.

"Against Lauren, if you don't do that you're not going to win.

"I tried to make my balls in the second set, I was trying a lot to hit out, to be aggressive, but unfortunately I missed a few too many balls and Lauren was connecting and on top of the court quite a bit, so it made things difficult.

"But it's just a tennis match, life goes on.

"I'm definitely disappointed, I'd like to do well here but it wasn't meant to be today."

Erakovic was down 5-0 in the first set. It was a horror beginning for her and it was clear that she struggled to get settled.

"I really tried to focus on my game," she said. 

"I even wrote down a few bullet points and I was looking at them. Even though that first set was gone, I felt that I was trying to do the right thing, I was just way too tense, I was framing some balls, missing some balls.

"I knew I was on the right track, maybe after that first set I relaxed a little bit, got a few more balls in.

"At 3-3 I had my chances but unfortunately Lauren played solid and my hat off to her."

The easier option for Erakovic would be to play Brisbane this week, where she wouldn't have to deal with the pressure and where the prize money and ranking points are of higher  value.

But being a proud New Zealander it's an option she's reluctant to take and she'll just have to find a way to cope with the pressure in Auckland without being able to get any match fitness.

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"It's always going to be there and I'm just going to have to deal with it the best way I can," she said.

"Unfortunately I know it hasn't been great since 2008, then I was on the rise, was swinging out and had nothing to lose.

"I'm just trying to perform well and it's hard. I wish I had a magic solution, but I don't obviously.

"I'm going to keep working at it, I believe I'm a positive person. After a knockdown I get up and I work hard, I train and I try to get it right."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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