Marina Erakovic. Photo by Getty
Some players can earn it in one tournament, but Marina
Erakovic is set to become the first US$1 million tennis player
from New Zealand since Brett Steven in the mid-1990s.
Erakovic has banked US$989,318 since turning professional in
2006 and, appropriately, could pass the US$1m mark at her
home tournament, the ASB Classic, starting on New Year's Eve.
It would require a decent run in the singles - the winner
collects US$40,000 and a beaten semifinalist about US$11,000
- but she will have two bites at it considering she will team
up with Brit Heather Watson in the doubles (the winning
combination receive US$11,750). The pair have played two WTA
tournaments together and won both.
Passing the mark doesn't mean Erakovic is rolling in cash.
Tennis is an expensive business and it's estimated it costs
about $200,000 to play on the tour each year once travel
expenses and a coach are factored in.
"I wish I had $1m," Erakovic laughed. "I'm not a
money-orientated person but it's definitely an achievement.
"If I keep going and working hard, hopefully I can have a
nice little retirement bundle. The $1m mark, it's great, but
I definitely don't have enough now to settle down. I have
enough to cover my expenses next year and a little bit on the
side to live off for a year or two if I wanted to. We are not
talking about big money here."
Erakovic has had a good 2012, jumping to a career-high
ranking of 39 in May, playing in her second WTA final,
winning two WTA doubles events and banking US$315,228 in
But it was also littered with disappointments. She was
hampered by a handful of niggly injuries, continued to
struggle at grand slam events - she has not gone past the
second round since 2008 - and was bundled out of the Olympics
in the first round after an embarrassing 6-2 6-1 defeat to
It's why she looks back on the year with mixed emotions.
"People tell me what a great year I had," she said. "I go,
'Really? It was alright'. I felt as though it didn't run as
smoothly as I wanted. I had a few hiccups, a few injuries
here and there.
"But if that still gets me into the grand slams and I can
improve, then I can do a lot better."
Her ranking remained steady, settling in at 67 after starting
the year at 61. It means she gains direct entry to the ASB
Classic for the second time rather than relying on a wildcard
and she has the potential to go deep into the tournament.
The field is headed by world No 4 Agnieszka Radwanska and
features six players inside the world's top 30, including
Julia Goerges (No 18), Yanina Wickmayer (23) and defending
champion Zheng Jie (26).
The return of Zheng is significant. There were fears the ASB
Classic would suffer from the emergence of the US$500,000
Shenzhen tournament in China in the same week as Auckland
along with the US$1 million event in Brisbane.
But the cutoff for direct entries is 78 - this year it was 71
- putting the quality of the field second internationally for
tournaments at the US$235,000 level.
There are three former world No 2s (Radwanska, Svetlana
Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva), a two-time grand slam winner
(Kuznetsova) and two former ASB Classic champions (Wickmayer
And a Kiwi looking to bolster her bank account.