Dokic Encouraged By Recent Results
Dokic Encouraged By Recent Results
Jelena Dokic By Richard Pagliaro
Jelena Dokic is ready to take on the world — she's just not quite sure where Australia fits in. Empowered by a potent performance in Zurich last week in which she downed top-ranked Kim Clijsters, won four successive matches for the first time this season and reached the Swisscom Challenge final before falling to Justine Henin-Hardenne, a determined Dokic is intent on working her way back into the top 10.
The 20-year-old Dokic, who reached a career-high rank of No. 4 last September, saw her ranking plummet to No. 25 before bouncing back to No. 14 following her streak of success in Switzerland. Now, she's eager to continue her climb toward the top of tennis.
"I have been fourth before," Dokic said. "I would like to get to the top 10 first, then work from there. That is my goal at the moment and I think, if I work hard, I can get there.
I would love to be number one. There have not been many number ones this far so, if it happens, I would be very happy with that. But I still have to work on my game and my physical and mental sides."
Throughout her career, Dokic has been primarily a power player prone to trying to hit her way out of trouble rather than thinking her way through points. Attempting to play more thoughtful tennis under current coach Borna Bikic, Dokic spoke like a woman striving to salvage her season by simplifying her life, focusing on her game and putting the confidence crisis that plagued her for much of the season in the past.
"Me and my coach have been through a lot, so I thank him very much for sticking by me," Dokic said. "I am not easy to work with, but he has put me back together — my life, my head, my tennis. Everything. I have a lot of problems behind me. He has had to deal with that and I think 99 percent of people wouldn't even start, or even try. But he stayed and hopefully he will stay further on. The coaching changes were a big thing for me. I am much more motivated, I am much more positive. I am much more hungry than I was before. I just had to wait for a tournament to do well."
Dokic has carried a lot of baggage and has been branded with many labels since she burst to global prominence by scoring the biggest upset in the Open Era, shocking top-seeded Martina Hingis in the opening round of the 1999 Wimbledon. The 2000 Wimbledon semifinalist has lived in three different countries in recent years, endured an uncomfortable stretch in the spotlight due to the abrasive antics of her father and former coach, the controversial Damir Dokic, served a self-imposed ban from playing in her adopted Australia and has attracted a steady stream of fans and photographers drawn to her good looks that land her image on web sites around the world.
Tennis has taken Dokic everywhere. Born in Belgrade, Dokic and her family emigrated from Serbia to Sydney, Australia when she was 11 years old. Dokic played for Australia in the Fed Cup and in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, but her relationship with Tennis Australia officials soured as her father accused officials of "rigging" the Australian Open draw against his daughter. As a result of his one-man feud with Tennis Australia an embittered Damir Dokic left Australia and moved his family to Serbia in 2001. Jelena has not returned to Australia since, but suggested she is closer to making a decision on whether she will return Down Under in January to play the Australian Open for the first time since 2001 when she fell to Lindsay Davenport in the opening round.
"I had a lot of problems when I was there and it was hard for me to go back there the last few years," Dokic said. "I think I had very good reasons for that, but now I'm considering that. Last time I was there was not so pleasant and that makes it difficult for me to decide, but I want to go back. I had no problem with the fans. I don't know what the reaction will be now if I go back. That's one of the things that I'm thinking about, but I've had a lot of support there, which is good."
Some of her biggest supporters are the Tennis Australia officials who have always maintained they would welcome Dokic back should she decide to return.
"We don't want to say too much at this stage, but I will say that Jelena would be very welcome to come and compete for us," Tennis Australia tennis director Mike Daws said last spring. "There are no hard feelings at all. This is a personal issue for her to decide upon. She is still an Australian citizen so that is not an issue at all. The issue is that Jelena has to be happy."