30 November 2005
Jelena Dokic will make her competitive return to Australian tennis at the Richard Luton Properties Canberra International in January 2006.
The former top five player, who represented Australia in the Olympics, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup, will return to Australia for the first time since 2001 when her father took the family overseas in a highly publicised departure.
Jelena Dokic begins her return to Australian tennis with the
Richard Luton Properties Canberra International.
Still only 22 years old, Jelena has been granted a wildcard to compete in the Canberra tournament following a two-year period of changes in her personal life which has seen her ranking freefall from a career high of world No.4 in August 2002 to its current mark of 349.
"Jelena is a player with huge potential and will be a real drawcard for this tournament," said Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood. "Tennis Australia has always said that the door was open for Jelena when she felt able to return to Australia and that time has come.
"She is now in a position to make her own decisions in life and we are happy to help her make that fresh start."
Jelena was among a number of quality players announced at the launch of the 2006 Richard Luton Properties Canberra International in Canberra today, which was attended by the ACT Minister for Sport, Ted Quinlan.
Among the other major announcements unveiled by Steve Wood to assist the growth of the tournament over the next few years today were:
RICHARD LUTON PROPERTIES re-signing as the naming rights sponsor for the 2006 event;
The Introduction of three night sessions, including a Night Final on Friday 13th January;
A new Kids Day with free entry to children aged 16 years and under on Tuesday 10 January – day three of main draw;
The tournament moving up to Tier IV status, accompanied by prize money increasing from US$110,000 to US$145,000;
Rebranding the tournament to include the word ‘International’;
A new Tournament Director, Gerard Corradini, General Manager of Tennis ACT; and
Five players ranked in the top 50 in the world.
The 2006 RICHARD LUTON PROPERTIES Canberra International takes place at the National Sports Club, Canberra from 8-13 January 2006.
Dual WTA Tour title winner in 2005 Lucie Safarova is headed for Canberra in January.
The international Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event is a joint initiative between Tennis Australia and Tennis ACT, and forms part of the "Road to the Australian Open" which helps the world’s top players prepare for the first Grand Slam of the new season.
Steve Wood added, "Tennis Australia remains committed to bringing top level tennis to each of the major cities in the lead up to the Australian Open.
"Today’s announcement of Richard Luton Properties continuing its investment in this event, coupled with the funding commitment through the Event Assistance Program (Australian Capital Tourism Corporation), has meant that Tennis Australia and Tennis ACT can ensure the continued growth of this important international tennis event."
New Tournament Director, Gerard Corradini, said "The Richard Luton Properties Canberra International has again assembled a quality international field, with Jelena’s return introducing an additional attraction for fans.
Top 50 players announced today include: Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues (34), Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli (40), Roberta Vinci of Italy (41), former Australian Open junior champion Shahar Peer of Israel (45), and Czech Republic teenager Lucie Safarova (47) who won two WTA Tour titles this year.
Anabel Medina Garrigues will be amongst the favourites in Canberra.
Other notable players include: Meghann Shaughnessy (66), the 2003 champion, returning for her third year in Canberra, Croatian Karolina Sprem (65) – the last player to defeat Venus Williams at Wimbledon – and Greek Eleni Daniilidou (70).
Corradini added, "The Management Team has scheduled three night sessions including a Night Final, improved corporate entertaining area, and free entry for children aged 16 years and under on Tuesday 10 January, to improve the spectator experience at this international tournament."
Additional night sessions
The popular night session introduced in January 2005 will increase to three at the 2006 tournament, with night sessions commencing at 7.00pm on Wednesday 11 January, Thursday 12 January and the Final on Friday 13 January.
As part of Tennis Australia’s aims to grow the game, and to help expose our next generation of budding tennis champions to the sport played at the highest level, a new Kids’ Day is being introduced with free entry to children aged 16 years and under on Tuesday 10 January – day three of main draw.
Part of the ‘Road to the Australian Open’
The Richard Luton Properties Canberra International is one of six tournaments that form the ‘Road to the Australian Open’. In October it was announced that a $1 million advertising campaign would run on the Seven Network promoting the sport’s biggest heroes and include a pointer to ticket sales for all the tournaments. In addition, each of the tournaments has adopted the Australian Open tagline of ‘Bring It On!’.
Richard Luton Properties have signed up as naming rights sponsor for the second year. At the same time, the ACT Government, through the Australian Capital Tourism Corporation, has a three-year agreement to support the tournament through the Event Assistance Program.
Tickets for the 2006 tournament are on sale now, available through Tennis ACT on (02) 6247 8804, with intimate Centre Court setting enabling fans to get a great view of the world class action.
Packages are available for the entire main draw or as a 3-day Finals package - packages include corporate hospitality through Rydges Capital Hill. To book your premium reserved seats contact Steve Whelan on (02) 6231 7598.
Jelena Dokic Fact File:
Born: Belgrade, Yugoslavia, April 12 1983
Immigrated to Australia: 1994
Fed Cup: Played for Australia from 1999-2000 (win/loss record 9:2)
Australian Olympic Team 2000 (semifinalist – lost to Monica Seles in Bronze Medal Match)
Won Hopman Cup for Australia in 1999 playing alongside Mark Philippoussis
Career high singles ranking: No.4 (August 19 –September 22, 2002)
Career-high doubles ranking: No.10 (February 4 – March 31, April 8 – May 5, 2002
Current singles ranking: 349