Huge thanks to Daniel. for typing out the entire article and posting it in Jelena's forum. Please goodrep him if you can.
SHE MIGHT BE OUT OF FORM BUT JELENA DOKIC ISN'T OUT OF AMBITION, AS SHE AIMS TO RESURRECT HER CAREER IN HER NEW MELBOURNE HOME.
When Jelena Dokic decided to call Australia home again in October, it soon became clear she was desperately short of the fitness and form that taken her to the 2000 Wimbledon semi-finals and the World No. 4 in 2002.
But the one thing that wasn't missing from Dokic's previously powerful arsenal was her propensity for hard work. Manager Jon Giannarelli told Australian Tennis Magazine that after three weeks in Melbourne, she'd worked hard enough on her fitness to shed six kilograms and was on track to achieve her goal to contest some summer events. "She's training four times a day, spending up to three hours on the courts everyday. She's taking it all very seriously," he said.
With her WTA ranking listed as 9999, Dokic is under no illusions about the monumental challenges she faces in resurrecting her career. Speaking through Tennis Australia's official website, Dokic said that there are some high-profile players who show that it's achievable. "I am trying to make a full comeback and only a few people like Jennifer (Capriarti), Mary (Pierce) and Andre (Agassi) have done it. It is not an easy position to be in, you have to earn respect all over again," she said.
"It is 100 times harder than when you first come along, because everything (then) is new and there's no pressure and you are very young."
Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia's Director of Player Development, says that regular contact with Dokic has increased since her return to Australia. "Currently she's at Melbourne Park most days and working really hard on fitness and preparing her game for a return to competative tennis," he expanded.
But there'll be no easy road for Dokic, who even at her peak has struggled to find her best form in Melbourne - she achieved her best result in reaching the third round on her 1999 debut. Contesting her home Grand Slam in 2008 will mean obtaining a wildcard to actually gain entry into the Australian Open's wildcard playoff in December. She's also keen to contest qualifying events on the Gold Coast and in Hobart.
Helping her achieve those goals is hitting partner Duje Kavacic (Dokic has also been hitting with some Australian juniors), with a permanent coach hopefully joining the team soon.
"I am aiming to be 100 per cent fit by the play-off time - basically as fit as I can be without having played matches," said Dokic. "That is the first stage then, of course, I will need lots of matches to get the mental part of my game right and to get fit.
"I am lucky I have a good hitting partner and can lift or lower the intensity of my training. It really helps to have good people to work with. Historically my fitness rises pretty quickly and even after two weeks I expect to be able to do a lot more than I could at the beginning."
Confidence will no doubt be the key for Dokic, who first re-appeared as an Australian late in 2005 where she claimed the Australian Open wildcard by winning the playoff, then lost a heartbreaking three setter to Virginie Razzano in the opening round of the Australian Open 2006. This year, Dokic has played just one professional event, losing to Giulia Gatto Monticone in a low-level event in Italy.
It seems off-court issues were the main reason for the lack of activity over the past 12 months. "I just haven't played because I didn't feel within myself that I was ready to play. That's why I took pretty much the whole year off. You always have ups and downs in a career and I have had a bit of a down period," she said.
"I felt like I just wasn't ready to play, until now. I think if you are not ready, it is counter-productive to try and come back. It is better to leave it and get yourself together. That is what I have done. It has taken some time, but right now I feel like I am in a place mentally and physically that I am ready and able to compete."
Dokic's latest return to Australia comes with no mention of father Damir, one of the most controversial figures in the game's history. Last year he hit headlines again with the untrue claim that his daughter had been kidnapped.
Understandably, Dokic chooses to focus on the future instead of her often painful past and as well as concentrating on regaining her form and fitness, is taking what time she can to enjoy Melbourne with longtime boyfriend Tin Bikic. "I'm happily reminded it's a beautiful city and I love it here and am really enjoying being back," she said.
Off-court hours have included beach training, walks through the city, movies and the excitement of attending the Justin Timberlake concert. They're the typical activities of a 24-year-old, providing a timely reminder that should Dokic return to the form she covets, there are still some good playing years ahead.
Having dealt with what she terms some "negative issues", Dokic appears to be in the right frame of mind to make her mark again. Says manager Gianarelli: "She just loves being in Australia and being back here and having positive people around her. Her attitude is just so good, she's got a smile on the face for the first time in a number of years. Being in Australia is a real weight off her shoulders."
Australian Tennis Magazine | December 2007