Jelena's not penniless or getting married: Damir
November 5, 2006
DAMIR Dokic has huffed, puffed and blown down rumours that his tennis-playing daughter Jelena is getting married or has been been left "desperate and penniless" by her Croatian boyfriend Tin Bikic.
The maddest tennis dad of them all says the world No.615 is training at a camp in Germany before her likely return to Australia to compete this summer. He's also still keen to appear on Dancing With The Stars
"No, no marriage, I know this," Damir told The Sun-Herald
from his home in Serbia.
"She is not getting married. She is playing tennis in Germany and wants to go back to Australia to play.
"She hopes for wildcards in Australia. She wants to be in the Australian Open. She will try to qualify if she has to.
"She has been injured but she is not giving up and she is not going to be a wife. She wants to be successful again in her tennis and she will be."
Jelena, the Belgrade-born product of the Australian tennis system who reached the world No.4 ranking before fleeing the country after a supposedly rigged Australian Open draw in 2001, qualified for the 2006 event in Melbourne through the wildcard play-off system.
Damir said he and his previously estranged daughter "were speaking again". He was sketchy about the details but his 23-year-old daughter is known to be working with Martin Ruthner at an academy run by noted Croatian coach and former player Niki Pilic in Oberschleissheim, near Munich.
Contrasting reports last week suggested she was either planning to marry Bikic or had split from him and been left "desperate and penniless". Devoid of major sponsors and the kind of prizemoney she used to take for granted, Dokic will have to dip into her own pocket if she ventures to Australia.
Unlike last year, when flights and accommodation were taken care of, a change in Tennis Australia policy means achievements will be rewarded instead of participation.
"She is not poor," Damir said. "But she is not rich."
Dokic won the Australian Open wildcard play-off last December, the first player to have done so while wearing tracksuit pants.
She lost in the first round to France's Virginie Razzano and a seemingly imminent career resurrection had gone up in smoke.
Since failing to qualify for Wimbledon in June, she's played only one satellite event, at Darmstadt in Germany, where she reached the quarter-finals.
Damir was approached by Channel Seven last year to appear on Dancing With The Stars
He was offered a place to live in Melbourne and the use of a car throughout filming of the show.
He was eager to participate but negotiations fell apart. He wouldn't mind starting them again. "I dance good," he said. "Very good."
JELENA Dokic's troubled attempts to resurrect her career have now led her to a coaching academy in Germany, but may not include a return to next month's Australian Open wildcard play-off at Melbourne Park, the scene of her homecoming last December.
Dokic has told Tennis Australia's director of player development, Craig Tiley, that she has only recently resumed from her latest injury, so may not be back in Australia before the official start of the summer circuit in January. Tiley confirmed Dokic had inquired about the possibility of wildcards into events.
"She hasn't requested [an Australian Open wildcard] yet, but she did ask me about what opportunities there were and what she would need to do to get a wildcard," Tiley said. "I told her the normal stuff, that we have the training camp play-off and then we'll probably have additional play-offs during the month of January, so if someone does well in the Hobart event, for example, they would be considered.
"She's indicated she wants to come back for the summer, but because she's starting late she's undecided whether she's going to come back at the end of the year for the play-off or come back in January and try to play her way through some of those events. It's 50-50, I think, right now."
In the meantime, the 23-year-old, now ranked 617, is apparently training with Martin Ruthner at the academy run by Croatian coach and former player Niki Pilic in Oberschleissheim, near Munich, amid contrasting reports suggesting she is either planning to marry her Croatian boyfriend, Tin Bikic, or has split from him and been left penniless.
Dokic has not been in Australia for about eight months. After winning the wildcard play-off in December and reuniting briefly with former coach Lesley Bowrey, the former world No.4 lost tearfully in the first round in Auckland, withdrew injured from the Canberra International, for which she had been given a wildcard, and was then eliminated in the first round of the Open by France's Virginie Razzano. Since failing to qualify for Wimbledon in June, Dokic's tournament play has been limited to one satellite event, at Darmstadt in Germany, where she reached the quarter-finals in late July.
If Dokic does contest the wildcard play-off this year, there will be no TA assistance with flights or accommodation, that system having been replaced with one that rewards achievement over participation. The men's and women's play-offs will offer total prizemoney of $20,800 (including $250 for the eight first-round losers in each draw), in addition to the minimum $19,215 carrot of Open participation.
While negotiations are continuing with Pat Rafter over his role in developing Australian tennis, Tiley also said he had opened discussions with Glynn Hewitt, now officially acting for his son, Lleyton, after the dismissal of agent Rob Aivatoglou, over his Davis Cup availability and other matters.
Australia travel to Belgium for a testing first-round tie in February.
"I've had a conversation with Glynn about what we're doing in 2007 and about Davis Cup," Tiley said. "We haven't reached any conclusion, but it was positive in that we were able to talk about the future …"