Dokic returns to practice court, ready to rebuild
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Estranged from her father and a long way from the top, Jelena Dokic is making to comeback.
The 22-year-old Dokic, whose ranking has slipped to 349th after being as high as No. 4 in 2002, held her first official practice in Melbourne on Monday as she started fine-tuning for next month's Australian Open.
"I want to look forward, play for Australia, be Australian and get my career back on track," she said.
She'll participate in a local players training camp starting Wednesday, then compete in the wild card playoff for a main draw entry.
Dokic's fiery father, Damir, was her mentor and coach until 2003. He was banned from a tournament in England in 1999, scrapped with a television crew at the Australian Open in 2000 and was ejected from that year's U.S. Open for arguing the price of fish. Later, he was barred by the WTA from attending tournaments for six months.
Despite her father's antics, Dokic rose in the rankings, peaking at No. 4 after reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2002.
But the pair split a year later when Damir called for his daughter to undergo psychiatric and drug testing after she started dating Brazilian race driver Enrique Benoldi.
"We have very different views on pretty much everything in life and that includes tennis and this decision to come back to Australia", she said. "He's my father, he's family, but we don't agree on those things ... so when it's that way you can't work with that kind of person."
Dokic says she's aiming to emulate Mary Pierce's comeback from similar circumstances.
Earlier in her career, Pierce had to take out a restraining order against her father and former coach, Jim Pierce, and slipped out of the top 100 for a time.
"Mary Pierce has done that so she has been a very big inspiration for the last year because she's done exactly that and maybe having a similar situation to me," Dokic said. "I've already proved that I can play well, I've had good results so now I can just enjoy my tennis, enjoy every shot I play."
Taken from ESPN website
Last edited by Belco; Dec 5th, 2005 at 05:06 PM.