17 Jan 2012

Erakovic moves into second round with straight sets win

8:48 am on 17 January 2012

The New Zealand tennis number one Marina Erakovic reached the Australian Open second round for just the second time in her career with a hard-fought straight sets win.

The 23-year-old downed French qualifier Irena Pavlovic 7-5 7-6(7-4) on Melbourne Park's court 15 in a match that took just four minutes shy of two hours.

It was the Auckland-based world No.62's seventh win in a grand slam event and just her second in Melbourne, having previously reached the second round in 2009.

On that occasion, she lost to Czech Lucie Safarova in a marathon three-setter in the second round.

This time, she will meet unseeded American Christina McHale, who upset 24th seed Safarova 6-2 6-4.

Erakovic is New Zealand's top-ranked player and also the nation's only singles entrant in Melbourne.

Last night's win was her first for the year, having lost in the opening round in tournaments in Auckland and Hobart.

But her lead-in form was better than that bare statistic suggests.

She pushed Germany's Angelique Kerber to three sets in Auckland and fell in a tight two-setter to Belgian world No.26 Yanina Wickmayer in Hobart.