Damaged elbow has Molik reassessing her future
June 15, 2008
COMPROMISED by a persistent elbow injury that has drained her confidence and punished her ranking, former world No. 8 Alicia Molik is expected to reassess her tennis future after the Beijing Olympics. Retirement could soon follow.
Amid growing speculation that this season may be her last, Molik will request a wildcard for Beijing, as her ranking of 115th is well outside the cut-off for direct entry into the singles draw. The 27-year-old rates her bronze medal in Athens four years ago as her career highlight.
Despite winning her second grand slam doubles title at the 2007 French Open, Molik has struggled in singles since returning from the inner ear virus vestibular neuronitis just over two years ago. Before being sidelined by the illness that affected her vision and balance, Molik had just reached the Australian Open quarter-finals to surge into the world's top 10 for the first time.
Recent months have been particularly dispiriting. Her practice time limited by a painful tendon injury known as "golfer's elbow", Molik has not won a main-draw singles match since the Australian Open and last month lost in the first round of qualifying in Rome and Paris. Although assured of contesting the doubles and mixed at Wimbledon, where she partnered Jonas Bjorkman to the final last year, Molik will be forced to enter the singles qualifying event at Roehampton this week. Last week, several eyebrows were raised by her decision to contest a claycourt event in Barcelona rather than enter qualifying at the grasscourt tournament in Birmingham.
Molik's management did not return calls from The Age last week, but Tennis Australia's director of player development, Craig Tiley, said he was uncertain what the future held for the former national No. 1.
"From a personal point of view, I'd like to see Alicia continue to work through where she wants to get to, but that decision is really hers. She's had some injuries, and it's just not an easy road," Tiley said.
"She's out there and doing well in doubles, and trying to make it back in singles, and I think it's been a hard road for her.
"I wouldn't want to speculate on Alicia's behalf without her saying anything, but I would think she would have to be looking at where she's at with her singles at this point because it gets tougher to be able to play doubles at a high level and not be in singles in some of the events."
Molik has been based in Melbourne for several years, but returned home to Adelaide to spend time with her family while recovering from a calf injury, as well as battling the continuing elbow issues. She is believed to have recently been considering her non-playing options, as well as a possible doubles-only schedule.
Her coach, Nicole Bradtke, and trainer, Simon Carney, have remained in Australia rather than travelling to Europe with Molik as originally planned. Bradtke said she expected the partnership to resume after Molik's return from Wimbledon, when — wildcard permitting — she hoped to be preparing for the Olympics.
Molik has won five career singles titles — the most recent in Sydney in 2005 — and seven in doubles, earning more than $3 million in prizemoney.