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Erakovic faces challenging first match

Published: 12:06PM Monday May 28, 2012 Source: Fairfax

  • Marina Erakovic (Source: Getty)
    Marina Erakovic - Source: Getty

New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic is full of confidence ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year after a successful clay-court lead-up.

The French Open got underway last night (NZT) in Paris, with Erakovic set to open her campaign on Wednesday morning (NZT).

The 24-year-old goes into the French Open in the most consistent form of her career and ranked No 40 in the world.

She reached the semifinals in Budapest last month and beat world No 13 Sabine Lisicki in the first round in Rome, the second highest-ranked player she has ever beaten.

First up for Erakovic at Roland Garros is Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino, who is ranked 55 places below the Kiwi at No 95.

"I have never played her but have seen her play and she is a grinder, hits a lot of balls back, plays her heart out and clay's a good surface for her. It's a good match up for me. I will just try to go out and play aggressively, dictate with the forehand and hit some good serves," said Erakovic, who is happy with her clay-court form despite an early loss in Strasbourg last week.

"I only arrived Thursday night and have been hitting, the courts here are fantastic and the weather has been terrific for us."

While Erakovic has never played her Spanish first-round opponent, her coach Christian Zahalka is familiar with Dominguez Lino.

"She is solid, in good shape, small in stature but grew up on clay which is her favourite surface. I think if Marina plays well she's going to win, if she doesn't play well it's going to be a complicated match.

"Marina needs to have the patience and go after it when the right opportunity arises. The bottom line is if you can be aggressive and make your shots you can finish on top."

Erakovic and partner Monica Niculescu are sixteenth seeds in the doubles and face the French wildcard pairing of Severine Beltrame and Laura Thorpe in the first round.