Re: Alicia in Beijing!
Dellacqua on a double missionLinda Pearce | August 1, 2008
CASEY Dellacqua and Alicia Molik will fly to Beijing together on Monday, just as they have shared a practice court at Melbourne Park in recent days and will combine in doubles at Molik's second Olympics and Dellacqua's first.
But there the common ground ends, as a breakthrough year for one has been a difficult time for the other.
Still, this is what Molik has been waiting for, and wanting so badly, despite needing an ITF wildcard to achieve it, and Dellacqua is well aware that her friend and Fed Cup teammate rates her singles bronze medal from Athens four years ago as the highlight of her career.
"I've spoken to the other girls that have been before, and they've just said it's such an amazing time, and I'm definitely going to march at the opening ceremony and soak up all that, and then get out there and experience the tennis, see what the courts are like, see how they're playing — and then just really look forward to seeing how the draw goes and getting out there and playing for Australia," Dellacqua said yesterday.
"Looking at my grand slam history this year so far, realistically I should be looking to win at least a few rounds. Once you get there and put on the green and gold, anything can happen.
"I've had a really good preparation. I had a bit of a shoulder (injury), but I'm over that and I've just been training really hard, so if I go out first round I'll be disappointed."
Dellacqua's singles ranking has halved this year to 39th, easily the best among the Australian women, on the back of a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open and third-round appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon. She has already achieved her year-end goal of a top 50 ranking.
In doubles, too, she has been a big improver in a season highlighted by an appearance in the Roland Garros final.
The Molik-Dellacqua duo is Australia's second-string pair behind medal contenders Sam Stosur and Rennae Stubbs, but both members of the first-time pair have reached grand slam finals and Molik has triumphed in two.
This year, however, the former world No. 8 has not won a tour-level singles match since January, and with her depleted ranking of 141st translating to a return to Challenger events and qualifying rounds, speculation still swirls about an impending retirement. If so, Dellacqua has been given no hint.
"I've hit with Alicia for the past few days and I think she's training as hard as she probably was when she was top 10," Dellacqua said.
"I think she's hitting the ball amazing, and I know she's very excited to continue to play.
"I know she's absolutely pumped about the Olympics, and we're super-pumped to play the doubles, so I think we've definitely got a good shot."
She knows Chinese conditions and is less bothered by the likelihood of polluted air than excited by another highlight in a crowded year.