Another related article from LA Times:
Father Figures in Dokic Mystery
by Lisa Dillman
One of the sadder sights of the summer hard-court campaign in Southern California was seen on a chilly Saturday night at Manhattan Beach, the eve of the final between Chanda Rubin and Lindsay Davenport.
It had nothing to do with forehands landing long and wide, or double faults. This unfolded off the court, in the weight room at Manhattan Country Club a few hours after Jelena Dokic had turned in a sorry performance in the semifinals, losing to Rubin, 6-0, 6-2, in 41 minutes.
Why had Dokic, currently the No. 4-ranked women's player, slipped into "semi-tank mode," as Rubin put it?
Dokic only heightened the intrigue when she sent word through the WTA public relations staff that she had been ill against Rubin ... then went out later that evening to play doubles with Kim Clijsters. And they won.
Afterward, Dokic still had a mandatory media requirement, which she fulfilled in the weight room, talking to two reporters. She talked about feeling poorly against Rubin because of a stomach virus, saying it had hurt her feelings to hear some booing from the crowd. Dokic smiled ruefully when reminded that the doubles victory meant another match, in the final on Sunday.
"Lucky me," she said.
What really happened that Saturday?
ESPN commentators Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez said Dokic had been seen crying shortly before her match against Rubin. A courtside spectator, Mike Reuben of Anaheim Hills, said in an interview that he'd seen Dokic talking on a mobile phone just before the semifinal, near the weight room, visibly upset. He said she handed the phone to tournament officials, telling them to have her mother call her father.
Apparently, it all comes back to Dokic's controversial father and coach, Damir, who had been, it seemed, safely off the scene, staying at home in Belgrade.
This answers some questions, but raises others. Did this have something to do with Damir's recently hatched plan to move from Belgrade to England? Or with speculation that Damir is unhappy about Jelena's new relationship with Brazilian race driver Enrique Bernoldi? Or, had Damir taken ill?
We may never find out what happened. Dokic has always publicly supported her father, dating back to his outlandish drunken behavior in Birmingham, England, in 1999 and Wimbledon in 2000.
But the Manhattan Beach episode was different. Dokic usually keeps her head when all is chaos, sometimes playing her best tennis when the crisis is most severe.
This time, she simply couldn't do that. It was unsettling to see the talented 19-year-old unable to function on the court, usually her safe harbor.
But it should be known--particularly by paying fans--that there is more to her story than forehands and backhands. There is some reason Dokic plays more matches than most other top female players--she is 45-17 in 2002, and has been playing nonstop since Palo Alto last month.
If Dokic plays this week, as scheduled, at New Haven, Conn., it will be her fifth consecutive tournament. These should be the best days for Dokic, who reached a career-high No. 4 ranking Monday.
But clearly, something isn't right. And so, the unhappiest fourth-ranked player you'll ever see keeps on going week after week, retiring from about a fifth of her tournaments and finishing others under dubious circumstances.