New Zealand No 1 Marina Erakovic is looking to end her breakthrough tennis year
in the world’s top 50.
Erakovic, who is making a short return to New
Zealand after seven months on the road, has already crossed that threshold,
rising to a career high 49th in July.

Now at No 53, the Croatian-born
Aucklander has five more tournaments on her schedule this year to inch back up

Three are WTA Tour events, starting with Seoul this month and
followed by Tokyo and either Linz, in Austria, or Luxembourg.

this is a low-key time for tennis and there’s not a lot of big events,” she said

“But to be in the top 50 and to start next year with that ranking
would be great.”

Erakovic’s rise over the past eight months has surpassed
her own expectations.

She began the season with her hometown tournament,
the ASB Classic, where she was a wild-card entry with a ranking of

But three wins, including a major upset over top-seeded Russian Vera
Zvonareva, took her as far as the semifinals.

There were further WTA
semifinal appearances in Memphis and Birmingham.

Her results also gave
her direct entries into the main singles draws of three grand slams — the French
Open, Wimbledon, where she reached the third round, and the US Open.

the time she became the first New Zealand woman since Belinda Cordwell in 1988
to play in an Olympics, she had broken into the top 50.

Erakovic, 20,
said her goal at the start of the year was to get into the top 100, which she
achieved by April.

“So it was another thing I could tick off, and it just
started rolling,” she said.

“The next goal was to be in the top 50. It
happened very fast, so I’ve definitely exceeded my expectations.”

believed there were several reasons, including the momentum she got from the ASB

“Getting those three wins was a kick-start and gave me
confidence,” she said.

“If you’re fit and playing well, it’s a
combination for success.”

Since Wimbledon, however, Erakovic has had five
successive first-round exits, the last at the US Open.

But Flushing
Meadows also provided her with the biggest highlight of the year.

In the
doubles, she and Croatian partner Jelena Kostanic Tosic made it as far as the
last eight, despite not having played together before.

“It would be [the
highlight],” she said.

“The quarterfinals in a grand slam is terrific,
even if it’s doubles. In doubles, you’ve got a lot of girls who are focusing on

Kostanic Tosic has decided to stay in Europe while Erakovic heads
to Asia, but Erakovic said the pair were contemplating joining up again for the
Australian Open in January.

She said one thing she would consider doing
differently next was how she organised her schedule, looking more closely at
things like when to insert training breaks to keep herself fresh.

I think seven months is a bit long,” she said.

“I like to be a bit more
at home. It’s good to have that good feeling when you’re home. It helps in your
tennis and your life.”