JELENA Dokic has missed out on an Australian Open wildcard, forcing her to play the qualifying event this week in a bid to make the main draw.
And she's no certainty to be able to contest the qualifying rounds that start on Thursday at Melbourne Park.
First, the 24-year-old, who doesn't have a world ranking, must be granted one of the four remaining wildcards into qualifying where a player must win three matches to earn a spot in the main draw for the Open starting next week.
That invitation from Tennis Australia should be a formality, given she beat two of the world's top 100 players at the weekend to win a place in the Hobart International starting today.
But now she might not make it back in time after winning three qualifying matches to be included in Hobart's singles draw.
Should the resurgent Dokic win two main draw matches in Hobart, she would struggle to get back to Melbourne in time to sign on for the Open's qualifying event.
And all the women's wildcards have now been allocated after adopted Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova of the Slovak Republic was awarded the last one yesterday.
Dokic's first round in Hobart today is against German Fed Cup representative Martina Muller, who is ranked 54 and won a WTA tour title in Budapest in 2002.
Whatever the outcome, Dokic is making positive advances in her comeback by adding vital competition conditioning to her fitness routine.
The former world No. 4 admitted in Hobart yesterday she was surprised by her form.
"I've been playing well, I played well in all the matches when I really needed to step it up and now I'm here," she said.
"I've worked hard the last two months, I didn't really expect to play this well yet, so for me to be beating top 100 players fairly easily, I'm just amazed, I've surprised myself.
"My first goal was to be in the top 50 at the end of the year and I think that was not an easy target.
"But the way I'm going I think I can reach that."
Dokic said during the pre-Christmas Australian Open playoff that qualifying for tournaments would be better for her long-term comeback.
"Honestly, I would rather play (Australian Open) qualifying. It's something that would suit me better overall for my game," she said after a slightly strained left thigh forced her to retire during the playoff quarter-finals.
"The harder I'm made to work early on, it will be easier later on for me to get up the rankings. So I wouldn't mind playing qualifying in any event."