Tennis: Birthday girl Erakovic takes first professional title
As birthday presents go, it will be hard for Marina Erakovic to top the one she gave herself yesterday, winning her first professional title in Victoria.
Erakovic marked her 17th birthday with a three-set win over third-seeded Australian Daniella Dominikovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the final of the Uncle Tobys US$10,000 ITF senior event at Warrnambool.
And the win could bump the Auckland teenager up about 100 places on the world rankings. Dominikovic is No 381. Erakovic was No 616 going into the event. She is likely to be between 510 and 520 by the end of this week.
En route to the title, Erakovic beat three seeded players, including top seed Meng Yuan 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals, in what she reckoned was her best performance of the week.
Erakovic described her emotions at the moment of victory as a mix of relief and delight.
The deciding set had been topsy turvy, both players breaking each other's serve, until it reached crunch time. Erakovic had been up 40-15 serving for the match. She lost a point, then double faulted to go to deuce.
"I got advantage and when I won the next point I was so happy. It was a bunch of feelings into one," she said from Victoria last night.
There were a couple of short rain breaks during the final, played in cool, windy conditions. Erakovic, who won the title after progressing through the qualifying draw, likes playing on grass and is confident she has the measure of her opponents.
"I know they are beatable, but it's definitely a nice feeling to know I can beat seeded players," she said.
She won't get carried away with yesterday's win. "There's still a lot of improvement to be done, and I reckon I can play a lot better tennis. But with the form I am in at the moment I'm pretty happy."
Erakovic's year began with a first round win at the ASB Classic in Auckland and now, without the distraction of school work, she is focussing primarily on her tennis.
She has two more events on the grasscourt circuit in Victoria, at Benalla and Yarrawonga in the next fortnight. After that, she hopes to win a place in New Zealand's team for the Fed Cup in New Delhi next month.