Molik unloads old firepower
By James Bresnehan
January 10, 2007
NOT since she was ranked No.8 in the world has Australian ace Alicia Molik unleashed the powerful tennis she rained down on Czech Alona Bondarenko at the Hobart International last night.
Molik's rocket-like forehand and clever backhand slice were matched only by the aggression that took her into the top 10 players in the world in February 2005.
The South Australian disposed of a fighting No.6 seed Bondarenko 6-3 7-5 to advance to the quarter-finals, where she will meet her doubles partner, India's Sania Mirza.
Molik is two wins away from a dream match-up against Serena Williams in the final on Friday night, provided a rusty Williams can make it through.
"Serena's a quality opponent and I'd love to play her in the final, but I'd love just to make the final," Molik said.
"Serena is such a great ball-striker and she's got great ability. It's always amazing watching someone like her.
"I've made it to the quarters now, so I'm not thinking that far ahead.
"But it would be a dream run if I made it."
The most impressive side to Molik's win last night was her step back in time.
"When I was No.8, I played a good few matches like today. There was no difference," she said.
"It's just a matter of not doing it just on one night, one week. It's doing it over the course of six months, 12 months, consistently and constantly.
"When I was ranked that high, there really wasn't too much difference.
"What was different was I was thinking very positively, very confidently at the time.
"I thought I was mentally very tough today.
"That's part of the process, building every match, and I'd say that's the most important thing -- just looking to improve every single day. Nothing more, really."
Molik is on the comeback trail from an inner-ear complaint that affected her balance and kept her sidelined all last year.
"I was very happy with that match. It was a good 30 or 40 per cent better than yesterday," she said.
"I served well and I defended well and retrieved well.
"I felt like she didn't see too many spaces and I didn't let her hit too many winners.
"I felt my defensive game was on song.
"I've built a lot on yesterday's match and I don't think could be happier with my game at this point in time."
Having beaten world No.6 Nadia Petrova at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week, Molik is building in confidence with her win over world No.32 Bondarenko.
"It's very pleasing to beat players of that calibre," Molik said.
"But I expect to as well. That's the reason I'm playing and that's the way I train.
"I train to match it with those girls and I don't feel it will be too long before I will have some big wins."
Molik's match against Mirza will be the star attraction of the day session on centre court from noon. Williams will play Austrian Sybille Bammer on centre court in the session scheduled to start at 7pm.