Jelena Dokic is an AUSTRALIAN again!
Jelena is an AUSTRALIAN again!
By LEO SCHLINK - The Daily Telegraph (30.11.2005.)
Dokic takes control of future
JELENA Dokic's tennis exile is over. Dokic, 22, will return to Australia on Saturday, intent on rebuilding a shattered career, free from her dominating father Damir.
The former world No.4, now languishing at 349th, wants to contest the Australian Open in January as an Australian.
Dokic will leave Zagreb on Friday to forge a fresh start to a broken career - and life - after turning her back on Australia four years ago.
Despite playing Fed Cup last year for Serbia and Montenegro, Belgrade-born Dokic insists her loyalties are with her adopted country.
Under International Tennis Federation regulations, Australian citizen Dokic is free to play under the Australian flag at grand slams and other tournaments. "I am an Australian, I feel like an Australian and I want to play for Australia again," she said yesterday.
"Australia is such a great country, the people are amazing. I had tremendous support from a lot of people, I loved playing Fed Cup, it was a great experience for me, I got along with everyone.
"I never got rid of my Australian nationality, I'm ready to be Australian again - there would be no point going back if I didn't feel Australian.
"I made a really good connection with so many people when I was at Tennis Australia and I'd like to have that feeling again.
"I'll try my best, this is not an easy step to take for either side and I don't know what to expect. I would like to return to the top 10 or 20 but that takes time and I'm fine with that.
"Maybe I'm not at such a disadvantage because I feel very eager again on the court."
Dokic is no longer on speaking terms with her volcanic father and former coach Damir and maintains only irregular contact with her mother Liliana.
Damir Dokic is one of the most reviled figures in international tennis because of a series of ugly, drunken confrontations. He ordered his daughter to abandon Australia in 2001 after repeatedly accusing Australian Open officials of rigging the draw and the family relocated to Serbia.
Dokic, who has been living in Croatia with her boyfriend, blames her father for many of the problems that have blighted her career.
"What happened before I had no control over, the decisions weren't made by me," Dokic admitted.
"This is a decision [to return to Australia] I am making.
"I wanted to go back before but I was a little afraid of what reception I'd receive.
"Everyone will have their opinion and I cannot know how much will be positive or negative, but I owe a lot to so many people in Australia.
"It is where I belong."
Dokic and her family fled war-ravaged Yugoslavia in 1994 to settle in Sydney.
The nimble baseliner was quickly spotted as a future star and guided through the Australian system by coaches Craig Miller, Lesley Bowrey and Tony Roche.
Glories soon flowed with an appearance at the Wimbledon semi-finals, WTA titles and the seemingly inevitable rise to grand slam honours.
But Damir Dokic's inexcusable antics - behaviour that led to a six-month ban from tournaments after his fight over the price of a plate of fish at the US Open - formed a suffocating millstone.
As rumours of physical and mental abuse shadowed Dokic's performances, the former prodigy finally succumbed.
"I was upset with what happened before," Dokic said.
"I had problems off court which I think I dealt with pretty well.
"There just comes a point when you have had enough. If you train for 10 hours a day and you aren't happy, you cannot perform.
"My father and I have completely different ideas, we aren't on the same wavelength. I am not able to live with him or to work with him.
"When you are in that situation, you can survive for a certain period of time but then it has to end.
"It is like that with a coach, but it is so much tougher when it is family. You cannot change that."
Dokic again wallowed this season, dropping to the secondary Challenger circuit. But she has vowed to regroup, identifying the Australian Open training camp at Melbourne Park next month as a launching pad.
"I haven't been ready to play before but I've been training hard recently and though I know it won't come back easily for me, I have nothing to lose," she said.
Scarred by the past, Dokic has no doubt the tumult that wrecked a fine career will ultimately help her.
"I am so much stronger in my mind and hopefully that will help with my tennis as well. I carried an enormous amount of pressure on my shoulders before but I'm free of that now.
"I finally feel happy and good about my life."
Attention: Jelena Dokic LiVE will continue with hard working and when Jelena becomes an Australian!