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Erakovic hits her stride in Auckland

Published: 8:15AM Tuesday January 01, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Marina Erakovic hasn't made it past the first round of her home tournament in the past three years but she has made a positive start to the new year.

The new aggressive Erakovic had her serve broken three times and made plenty of attacking errors early on. But despite the mistakes and several set points, the Kiwi did enough to win the first set against Stephanie Dubois from Canada - a player ranked 80 spots lower.

Then Erakovic hit her stride in the second set, winning her first singles match in Auckland in four years, 6-2, 6-1.

"I'm really happy with my performance, I love coming out here playing in front of you guys, thanks for coming out" Erakovic said.

The Kiwi now faces unseeded American Jamie Hampton who scored a big upset in the first night session, beating  defending champion Zhe Jeng of China.

Earlier Romanian fifth-seed Simona Cirstea was bundled out of the Classic in one of the tournament's early upsets.

Playing British hope Heather Watson, the 27th-ranked Cirstea dropped the first set 3-6 and was forced to retire with injury, handing her opponent a gilt-edged ticket to the second round and a match-up against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens.

Cirstea joined defending champion Zheng Jie among the event's first major casualties, with the titleholder bundled out yesterday.

American Jamie Hampton powered home against Zheng, winning 13 of the last 16 games to sweep the Chinese fourth seed 7-5 6-1, on a day of varying fortunes for the four previous winners on display.

The name above Zhing's on the trophy - Hungary's Greta Arn - was fortunate to survive qualifying this year, losing her final preliminary match against Thai Nudnida Luangnam on centre court in the morning, but sneaking through to the main draw as a lucky loser. Her reward was a first-round clash with top seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

Two-time champion Eleni Daniilidou of Greece had to fight off two match points, before clawing her way back for a 1-6 7-6(5) 6-4 win over American Coco Vandeweghe in a clash of wild cards.

And 2010 winner Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, seeded third this year, was the most convincing of her kind, dispatching Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6(3) 6-2 in straight sets.

American seventh seed Christina McHale was the other seed ousted on Day One, toppled by Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-4 6-1.

Kiwi Marina Erakovic provided an early highlight for the home crowd, combining with Briton Heather Watson for a straight-sets win over young locals Paige Hourgan and Claudia Williams in the doubles.

Erakovic and Watson, seeded second in the draw, captured two WTA doubles titles in 2012, but will face a tough test in the second round - two-time doubles champion Cara Black and Aussie Anastasia Rodionova, who beat Wickmayer and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets this morning.

The top two seeds will feature on Day Two, with Radwanska and Arn due on centre court this afternoon ad German Julia Goerges against qualifier Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia this evening.

Erakovic also gets her singles campaign underway against Canadia qualifier Stephanie Dubois. New Zealand Federation Cup rookies Abigail Guthrie and Emma Hayman face Yuliya Beygelzimer of Ukraine and Israeli Julia Glushko in the day's final match.

ASB Classic

Tuesday, January 1

Centre Court

Cara Black (Zimbabwe)/Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) beat Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia)/Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 6-2 6-3

6-Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazahkstan) bt Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino (Spain) 6-3 6-2

1-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) bt LL-Greta Arn (Hungary) 6-2 6-2

Marina Erakovic (NZ)  bt Q-Stephanie Dubois (Canada) 6-2 6-1

Q-Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) v 2-Julia Goerges (Germany)

Abigail Guthrie (NZ)/Emma Hayman (NZ) v Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukraine)/Julia Glushko (Israel)

Court Four

Heather Watson (Britain) bt 5-Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 6-3 retired

Romina Oprandi (Switzerland) bt Q-Nudnida Luangnam (Thailand) 6-0 6-2

8-Mona Barthel (Germany) bt Q-Grace Min (US) 6-1 6-3

Simona Halep (Romania)/Arantxa Rus (Netherlands) v 3-Liga Dekmeijere (Latvia)/Megan Moulton-Levy (US)

Court Two

Irina Falconi (US)/Maria Sanchez (US) v Cagla Buyukakcay (Turkey)/Misaki Doi (Japan)

Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium)/Johanna Larsson (Sweden) v J Coin (France)/Mare-Eve Pelletier (Canada)