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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Marina Erakovic won her first match
of the year last night and, crucially, did
it at the biggest tournament to date.
e 25-year-old ousted 21st seed
Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 7-6 in one hour
and 53 minutes to progress to the
second round of the Australian Open.
She will now play Kazakhstan s
Zarina Diyas and has a great chance
to move to the third round at the
Australian Open for the first time
given Diyas, who emerged through
qualifying, is ranked 152 in the world
--- Erakovic is currently 52.
If she can win that match, she is
likely to meet 11th seed Simona
Halep of Romania.
Erakovic produced a vastly improved
performance against Cirstea than in
her match against American Lauren
Davis at the recent ASB Classic,
when she was badly out of touch and
admitted afterwards she struggled
with the pressure of playing at home.
She was also a first-round casualty in
Hobart, going down in straight sets
to highly-ranked Belgian Kirsten
Against Cirstea, Erakovic took the
match to her more fancied opponent in
the oppressive 41degC temperatures.
She was aggressive on the big points
and held her nerve, even as she faced
four set points in the second set.
"It was probably my best performance
at the Australian Open so far," she
said. "I knew what to expect. She hits
the ball really big and I tried to dictate
as much as I could. I tried to take my
time with the heat and deal with it as
best I could.
"I knew she was a bit nervous (at the
end of the match) and was feeling it,
too, and just trying to put the ball back
in the court. From then on I thought,
go on, take a chance and just go for it .
"I wouldn t say it was my best tennis
I ve ever played but, mentally, I felt I
really dug in and preformed at a good
Both players struggled to hold serve
in the opening set, which saw five
breaks of serve, before Erakovic closed
it out when serving for the set.
e second set saw just two breaks
of ser ve before it was decided in a tie-
Cirstea looked like she would send
it into a third set when she held a
handful of set points but Erakovic
recovered to win the match in one of
her biggest results at a grand slam.
Erakovic is also playing doubles
with China s Jie Zheng and the 10th-
seeded pairing will play French duo
Alice Cornet and Carolina Garcia in
the first round. --- APNZ
Rafa Nadal got a free pass
into the second round of the
Australian Open when Bernard
Tomic retired injured yesterday,
a welcome reprieve from stifling
heat that led one player to
describe conditions at Melbourne
Park as "inhumane".
Australian Tomic, booed
off Rod Laver Arena by his
compatriots, blamed a groin
injury for withdrawing having
lost the opening set 6-4, leaving
top seed Nadal to join fellow
"big four" players Roger Federer
and Andy Murray in securing his
Defending champion Victoria
Azarenka led third seed Maria
Sharapova and former world
No 1 Caroline Wozniacki over
the first hurdle in the women s
draw, but there was only one topic
of conversation on day two of the
"Every single person that I saw
coming in from practice or going
out to play a match or coming
back from a match, everyone just
said like, It s really hot today ,"
Murray told reporters after
beating Go Soeda 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
Azarenka said being on court
was like "dancing in a frying pan"
and Wozniacki thought her water
bottle was going to melt, but for
some players the impact of the
extreme heat, forecast to continue
until Friday, was more serious.
Frank Dancevic slammed
organisers for forcing players
to compete in "dangerous"
conditions after he collapsed on
court and passed out for a minute
in his match on one of the more
exposed outer courts.
"I think it s inhumane, I don t
think it s fair to anybody, to the
players, to the fans, to the sport,
when you see players pulling
out of matches, passing out," the
Canadian told reporters after his
defeat to Benoit Paire.
"I ve played five-set matches all
my life and being out there for
a set and a half and passing out
with heatstroke, it s not normal.
"Until somebody dies, they re
just keep going on with it and
putting matches on in this heat."
A ballboy also fainted, while
China s Peng Shuai said the heat
had caused her to cramp up and
vomit and she had to be helped
from the court after her 7-5, 4-6,
6-3 defeat to Japan s Kurumi
Organisers said temperatures
peaked at 42.2degC in the early
evening but, taking into account
the low humidity, the threshold
for calling off play had not been
" ere were a few players who
experienced heat-related illness
or discomfort, but none required
significant medical intervention
after they had completed their
match," tournament doctor Tim
Federer, watched by the newest
member of his coaching team,
Stefan Edberg, kept his usual
cool in the hot conditions and
eased into the second round with
a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 drubbing of local
wildcard James Duckworth.
"It can become just a very
mental thing and you just can t
accept that it s hot," the 17-times
grand slam champion said of
coping with the conditions. Just
deal with it, because it s the same
for both. at s basically it."
Wimbledon champion Murray
had other things on his mind
besides the weather and was
clearly delighted with his clinical
victory over Saeda in just his third
competitive match since returning
from four months on the sidelines
after back surgery.
"I maybe didn t expect to play
as well as I did today, but the
signs have been good in practice,"
the fourth seed said. "I started
the match off very well and did
Juan Martin Del Potro, the
fifth seed, had considerably more
difficulty with his first-round
opponent, and needed more than
three hours to get past American
qualifier Rhyne Williams 6-7 (1),
6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
at Lleyton Hewitt was
involved in one of the longest
matches of the day surprised no
one, but the former world No 1
ended up a 7-6 (4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7,
7-5 loser to Italian Andreas Seppi
despite coming back from two
sets down to hold a match point.
Azarenka made a stuttering start
to her bid for a third straight title
when Swede Johanna Larsson
kept her out in the sun for 106
minutes before succumbing 7-6
(2), 6-2 in the first match on Rod
Former Melbourne Park
champion Sharapova, also on the
comeback trail after a shoulder
injury, took on American Bethanie
Mattek-Sands in the final match
of the day on the main showcourt.
Mattek-Sands retained her
distinctive knee socks, and
Sharapova s progress was not as
slick as her own sleek dress, but
the Russian wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4
victory in one hour 39 minutes.
Tomic s retirement, one of nine
in the first round, left Nadal with
less time on court than he would
have liked, but the Spaniard said
he would not be training any
harder today to compensate.
Organisers of the
Denniston Chain Grinder
say the spirit of the wild
West Coast that has made
men and broken them
lives on in the annual
mountainbike race, to be
held on March 1.
"While the early
prospectors had to endure
and battle the terrain
cyclists who enter the
event will have to face
e race is held on old
mining exploration tracks
and is a three-hour lap
race on the Denniston
e track has some
including a couple of
stream crossings, requiring
a moderate level of skill
A cash prize of $500 is
at stake for the team or individual that
complete the most laps. First place in each
category will win a performance prize, plus
there will be spot prizes throughout the day.
e categories are: junior (12-18yrs), open
(19-40yrs), veteran (41-54yrs) and a new
section for super-veteran cyclists (55-plus).
With each category, teams of two of three
can enter in the men s, women s or mixed
classes, and solo riders in the men s or
women s classes.
Entries close on February 22.
Twenty-five hardy souls will contest
the annual Croesus Track run --- renamed
the Goat Race --- on Saturday, while
20 even hardier folk will attack the
Mountain Man event, which adds
cycling and kayaking legs to the alpine
Race organiser Phil Lemon said about
a dozen two-person or three-person
teams had also entered the longer event,
which involves a 32km cycle from
Blaketown to Barrytown, the Croesus
Track run, a 6km bike to the Grey River
then a 26km kayak to the finish line in the
Lemon said the Goat Race had drawn
entrants from Japan and Canada, while a
victor from Sweden, Scott Cole, was using
the Mountain Man as a training run for
the Coast to Coast and was expected to
clock a fast time.
Locals runners Matt and Steph Levien
are also contesting the individual
Mountain Man, along with Ryan
O Connor, who is in the youth section but
is expected to show some of his seniors a
clean pair of heels.
Greymouth s Ben Aynsley, fresh
from victory in the 2013 Nasbey 50km, is
tipped as a front runner for the Goat
e Mountain Man starts at Blaketown
at 7am, while the Goat Race begins at
ere is a 12-hour cut-off time for
the triathlon, but Lemon expects top
competitors to break eight hours.
Erakovic in upset win in searing Australian heat
Rafa gets free pass Wild west Denniston challenge
Hamish Pescini in last year s challenge on the Denniston Plateau.
45 to tackle Croesus
PICTURE: Getty Images
Australia s Bernard Tomic, right, is comforted after retirement in
his match against Rafael Nadal last night in Melbourne.
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