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It's been a heart-breaking defeat for Kiwi tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic in the first round of the Australian Open in what proved to be an epic contest against her French opponent Alize Cornet in three hours and 38 minutes this afternoon.
Former world No 11 Cornet won the contest 7-5 6-7(3) 10-8 with the match total of 43 games just five off the record set in 1996 between Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Chanda Rubin.
Erakovic will rue her chances as she had service breaks in all three sets and completed 17 double faults in total in the match and at times looked the better player as Cornet scrambled and chased down shots which looked like winners.
Played in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd which was fully behind the Kiwi, the match never had a rhythm with both players looking set to capitalise on service breaks or game points on their serves before letting their opponents come back into the match.
If she had won against Cornet there would have been a second round meeting with former world No 1 Venus Williams.
Erakovic will now play in the doubles draw where she will team up with Brit, Heather Watson and face ninth seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke this week.
- Dave Worsley in Melbourne