Heat, opponent awaitng Erakovic in Melbourne

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2014

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Marina Erakovic is preparing to cope with the heat as well as her first round opponent at the Australian Open, which starts tomorrow.

The New Zealand No 1 has been drawn against the Grand Slam's 21st seed, Sorana Cirstea from Romania, a tricky opponent, who is now ranked 50 in the world.

What will make the match tougher for Erakovic is the intense heat expected to hit Melbourne early this week, with the mercury forecast to get to the mid 30s.

"You just try to stay as hydrated as you can," Erakovic told Sunday News about the challenge ahead of her.

"I need to keep cool and when you're out on the court be smart with your time, towel, ice, do whatever you can do to keep cool and just focus on the game.

"It's definitely tough and I can remember I played against [Jelena] Dokic in qualifying one year (2008) and it was 42 degrees, it was like an out-of-body experience.

"That was my first time in that kind of heat and it's good to have that experience in the bag and I'm sure when I play I'll be ready for it."

Erakovic arrived in Melbourne last Wednesday and hit the practice courts the next day. She came there after a couple of disappointing results, losing in the first round of the singles and doubles in Hobart. This followed similar early exits at the ASB Classic the week prior.

"I obviously would have liked to have done better in the last two tournaments," she said. "I lost in the first round in both and that was tough. I would have liked to have had more matches under my belt, but that's sometimes the way it goes. It's not the first time I've had that leading up to a Grand Slam, so I know what to expect and I'm trying to work hard on my game, improve and eventually it's going to get there.

"I'm going to start playing good tennis, but the match against [Kirsten] Flipkens in Hobart was a tough one. I played much better in the first set than I did in Auckland, but I just didn't manage to squeeze it out and she got into another gear.

"But the conditions were tough over there. It was really windy and really cold and we were a little unlucky in the doubles as well.

"Overall, tennis is tennis, it's a bit like a roller coaster and I've definitely been on that roller coaster plenty of times. But I'm working hard and I'm always staying positive."

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- Sunday News

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