Andrew's second-round report
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
2. Second-round scoreboard-report: Dokić v Chakvetadze
3. Women's Doubles: First-round result
4. More reports to come!
The mouthwatering all-EF match between Anna Chakvetadze and Jelena Dokić didn't disappoint me - except that the BBC instead showed repeats of Đoković and Federer's matches at the time they had promised live coverage of the Rod Laver Arena evening-sessions!
Search Getty Images for "chakvetadze"
Anna Chakvetadze and Jelena Dokić:
Various players including Anna:
2. Second-round scoreboard-report: Dokić v Chakvetadze (Wednesday 21st January 2009)
Very nice winner, very nice loser:
+ Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [17,EF], 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-3
A well-contested and very emotional match: Anna looked close to tears at 4-6 *1-4, but it was Jelena who cried at the end, as she sat at her chair after shaking hands.
In the first set, the first seven games were serve-dominated, and it was Anna who broke first for *4-3 - only for Jelena to break straight back to love as she won the last three games of the set.
In the second set, Jelena led *4-1, served for the match at *5-3, and was also one game away from victory at *5-6. Jelena led 3/2* in the tiebreak, only for Anna to dominate the rest of it and force a third set.
I expected Jelena to wilt in the third set after missing those chances, and because I don't think she's as fit as she used to be. But she's done a lot of hard work in the last year, and Anna was the one who got tired. Jelena broke at the start of the third set (after Anna had led 40/15), and again in the last game as Anna served a quadruple fault.
It was Jelena's first win over a top-twenty player since beating #17 Daniela Hantuchová at Linz 2003 (the week after she upset #1 Kim Clijsters to reach the final of Zürich). After a long losing-streak in 2004, she spent much of the intervening years in tennis-wilderness: either on the ITF circuit or not playing for months at a time, as she struggled with depression following her well-documented family-problems.
Anna is already down from #5 to #18 since her traumatic loss in the US Open 2007 semi-final, and even more traumatic burglary-ordeal in December 2007, but we must be ready for the big jump deep as she defends her lone title of 2008 in February: WTA Paris.
The match was first on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session, but since the BBC made good on their threat to show a repeat of Đoković v Chardy instead of live Jelena v Anna on the Red Button (no longer called BBCi, apparently), I had to make do with live scores at www.australianopen.com.
I can only hope that the match will be available to order on DVD from Tennis Videos International <http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/>. I usually wait until the end of the tennis-season before I order my next batch of matches from TVI, but I'm seriously considering making an exception for the Australian Open 2009 now that the BBC has robbed me of watching such a mouthwatering match! [edit: see Section 4]
DOKIĆ * * *__@*@ 6
CHAKV _* * *@___ 4
The match started at 19:46 AEDT.
Jelena serving 0-0: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Already, the signs are that both girls are going to make this competitive.
Anna serving 0-1: 0/15. 40/15 (the score briefly reverted to 30/15 - did Jelena make an incorrect Hawk-Eye challenge?). Held.
Anna holds more easily than Jelena. That's not unexpected, as Jelena has often struggled on serve throughout her career, while Anna has an excellent one-two punch (although it has gone AWOL at times since the burglary), and usually holds serve reliably - at least until she has to serve for a set.
Jelena serving 1-1: 40/0. Held.
"Anything you can do, I can do better."
Anna serving 1-2: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. Held.
I feel the momentum shifting more and more towards Jelena, with 0/15 and 15/30 openings on Anna's serve. Just enough to make Jelena confident, without the baggage of any wasted break-points so far...
Jelena serving 2-2: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Anna serving 2-3: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP #1). 40/40. Ad Jelena (BP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Jelena (BP #3). Deuce #3. Ad Anna. Held.
Three break-points go begging for Jelena, and a pattern is developing that suggests Anna is much more comfortable serving in the left court than in the right court.
Jelena serving 3-3: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BPx2). 40/40. Ad Anna (BP #3). Deuce #2. Ad Anna (BP #4). Broken.
Typical for a player who squanders break-points to get broken herself in the next game! Anna is lucky not to be carrying that same baggage herself, but both the score and the momentum are firmly in her favour now.
Anna serving 4-3: 0/40 (BPx3). Broken.
Wow - a champion's response from Jelena! In the blink of an eye, she cancels Anna's break and seizes the momentum.
Jelena serving 4-4: 15/0. 15/15. 40/15. 40/30 (the score briefly reverted to 40/15, which suggests an incorrect Hawk-Eye challenge for Jelena). Held.
The sequence of scores of the last two games suggest that Jelena has hit one of her purple patches. For Anna, saving this set could be like trying to stop a runaway horse...
Anna serving 4-5: 15/0. 15/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Jelena (SP #1). Deuce #2. Ad Jelena (SP #2). Jelena won the first set 6-4 at 20:23 AEDT (37 minutes).
A very well-contested set, with the breaks occurring at exactly the right times for drama. I really hope I will be able to order it from Tennis Videos International one day and watch it!
It would be fascinating to see how emotional they both get. Anna is famous for getting emotional on court - crying and putting her body through all sorts of contortions - while this is a very emotional return to the Australian Open for Jelena, who broke down in her first-round press-conference.
DOKIĆ * *@*__@__*__ 6(4)
CHAKV _*___*@ @* *T 7(7)
Jelena serving 0-0: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Anna serving 0-1: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
That was a very important game for Anna to steady the ship.
Jelena serving 1-1: 40/0. Held.
Jelena continues to hold serve easily after being broken for 3-4* in the first.
Anna serving 1-2: 0/40 (BPx3). 40/40. Ad Jelena (BP #4). Broken.
I feel just like the Jelena of 1999-2002 is back! A set and a break up, and really threatening to run away with this match unless her bubble suddenly bursts...
Jelena serving 3-1: 40/0. 40/30. Held.
It feels like a long way back from *1-4, but it's only one break.
Anna serving 1-4: 15/0. 15/15. 40/15. 40/40. Ad Anna. Held.
A vital hold for Anna, because she would have been history if she had gone 1-5* down. Still in with a fighting chance, albeit a 12.5% one if we give her a 50% chance of breaking back, 50% to win the second set from 4-4* and 50% to win the third, although those chances could greatly improve if Anna were to regain the momentum...
Jelena serving 4-2: 15/0. 15/15. 15/40 (BPx2). Broken.
Good for Anna. I must confess I've been getting very excited for Jelena, but as an Anna-fan too, it's important for me that she at least adds more respectability to the scoreline.
Anna serving 3-4: 0/30 (the scoreboard briefly reverted to 0/15 - an incorrect challenge for Anna?). 0/40 (BPx3). Broken.
The moment of truth for Jelena: serving for the match...
Jelena serving 5-3: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/40 (BP). Broken.
...but Anna breaks back, and the momentum switches back to her! I now give Anna a 25% chance of winning this match (50% for the second set and 50% for the third), as she has the momentum but Jelena still has the lead (and Anna has been struggling on serve since *2-3 in the first).
Anna serving 4-5: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Anna's chances of victory are being boosted with every game now, as she levels up at 5-5 with two games in a row, and it would be interesting to see how much Jelena would have left in the tank if this were to go to a third set... her victory is in great danger right now.
Jelena serving 5-5: 40/0. 40/30. Held.
Once again, Jelena is one game away from victory...
Anna serving 5-6: 40/0. Held.
A tiebreak is very much about luck, although it could be tougher for Jelena if she dwells on those leads of *5-3 and 6-5*.
6-6 tiebreak (all scores Jelena/Anna): *0/0. 1/0*. 1/1*. *1/2. *2/2. 3/2*. This point is HUGE... 3/3*. *3/4. *3/5. 3/6* (SP #1). 4/6* (SP #2). Anna won the second set 7-6 (7/4) at 21:16 AEDT (second set 53m, match so far 1h30m).
The delay between the last scoreboard-update of the first set and the first of the third was less than two minutes. I'm surprised they didn't take a bathroom-break - and glad that /I/ didn't! ;-)
Can Jelena put the disappointment of blowing at 6-4 *5-3 lead behind her, and how much does she have left for the third set? Her chances feel considerably less than 50% at the moment...
DOKIĆ @* * * *@ 6
CHAKV __* * *__ 3
Anna serving 0-0: 15/0. 15/15. 40/15. 40/40. Ad Jelena (BP). Broken.
I thought Anna had the momentum, but a new set is a new story. It's lucky for Jelena that they're not playing in the day-session, otherwise I'd be reminded of the 2002 Australian Open final between Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis, where Hingis was 6-4 4-0 up, Capriati took the second set, Hingis broke at the start of the third, but wilted soon after that.
Jelena serving 1-0: 0/15. 15/15. 40/15. Held.
Anna serving 0-2: 40/0. 40/30. Held.
Jelena deserves a medal for her determination after losing that second set after being on the verge of victory.
Quite a long delay at this changeover - I wonder if someone is taking a medical time-out? So I checked at OFFICIAL Order of Play 1ST Wednesday, Scoring Chat... : it seems it was for Jelena's right Achilles' tendon - the one that kept her out of Hobart.
Jelena serving 2-1: 30/0. 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Jelena. Deuce #2. Ad Jelena. Deuce #3. Ad Jelena (it only flashed up for a second on the scoreboard). Deuce #4. Ad Jelena. Deuce #5. Ad Anna (BP). Deuce #6. Ad Jelena. Held.
What a game! Six game-points needed, one break-point saved, and Anna will be feeling very bad right now.
Anna serving 1-3: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Anna. Deuce #2. Ad Anna. Held.
Full marks to Anna for hanging in this match. She recovered from *1-4 in the second set, but it will not be necessary to fight back from 1-4* in the third.
Jelena serving 3-2: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Jelena. Held.
Anna continues to fight, while Jelena continues to maintain her break. How she would love to get a second break, rather than go through what she did in the second.
Anna serving 2-4: 0/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Anna. Held.
It's such a shame that they can't both win! I think they should be allowed to advance to the third round as a doubles-team, playing two against one!
Jelena serving 4-3: 0/15. 15/15. 40/15. Held.
The moment of truth again for Jelena, albeit at 5-3* rather than *5-3 this time...
Anna serving 3-5: 30/0. 30/40 (MP #1). 40/40. Ad Jelena (MP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Jelena (MP #3). Jelena won 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 at 22:04 (third set 48m, match 2h18m).
She really didn't want to have to serve for the match again, did she?
Anna finished the match with a quadruple fault, but it was Jelena who was in tears after shaking hands.
I don't know what to feel right now. It's tough for Anna to lose in the second round of a Major - it won't be any consolation to /her/ that she lost to another hottie - and I feel sorry for Anna, but I'm glad Jelena managed to close it out in the end, because it would have been a devastating - possibly even career-ending - blow for her to lose after the leads she had in the second set, and then match-points in the third.
Anna still has many years ahead of her, while Jelena is thinking of retiring if she fails to make an impact in 2009. It's strange to think that Jelena is only four years older at 25, considering that I inducted Jelena into my Eternal Fanship in June 1999, and Anna in December 2006.
Both girls had negative W:UE ratios: Jelena 27:35, Anna 28:50. Jelena's W:UE ratio deteriorated slightly from set to set, while Anna's deteriorated dramatically: from 10:14 to 8:15 to 10:21, implying that she went for her shots more in the third set because she was tired.
Jelena got 68% of her first serves in, winning 70% of the points when she did so, and 45% on second serve. Her first-serve winning-percentage dipped from 77% in the first set to the late 60s in the next two, while her second-serve winning-percentage improved dramatically from set to set (33% to 46% to 55%).
Anna got 67% of her first serves in, winning 66% of the points when she did so, and 33% on second serve. Her second serve was a liability especially in the first and third sets: 31% and 21%, respectively.
Jelena's first serve was slightly faster than Anna's - fastest 108-106 mph, average 100-99 mph - but Jelena's second serve was /much/ faster than Anna's: 94-79 mph. Jelena's second serve is exceptionally fast: sometimes it looks like she just hits two first serves!
Jelena served 3 aces and 9 double faults, which is a bit high. But Anna served 5 aces and a monstrous 16 double faults (6 in the first set, 7 in the third) - including a quadruple fault to finish the match. :-(
Jelena broke 6 times from 15 BPs (2 of 5 in every set), while Anna broke 3 times from 7 BPs. Jelena won the first set by 2 breaks to 1 (Anna wasted 3 BPs), and the third by 2 breaks to 0 (Anna wasted 1 BP); they had 2 breaks each in the second.
Jelena won 12 of 20 points at the net (5 of 6 in the first set, but only 3 of 8 in the second), while Anna was more selective, winning 10 of 12 (but she only came in once in the third set).
In points, Jelena won 118-104 (first set 37-29, second set 38-40, third set 43-35).
2.2 Jelena's on-court interview
"It's been a long time; last time I was on this court, it was a bit different.
"Thank you all for supporting me; it's unbelievable. I really just wanted to put in a good display tonight - she's a top-twenty player - but the crowd really pulled me through.
"It's been an amazing night, and no matter what happens from here on in, I will not forget this memory for a long time. This is a great start to the year, and hopefully this time next year, I'll be a top-twenty player myself."
2.3 Jelena's second-round press-conference
Q. You must be very proud of that.
JELENA DOKIĆ: Yeah, I am. Yeah, I just went into the match just wanting to see how I would go against a top-twenty player. I was very nervous to be on centre court again. It's been a long time.
Just really wanted to see where I was with my shots and fitness and movement. I started to play well. I think she had a slow start, but she started to play really well in that second set. I let her off that 5-3 game where I had 30/15 and did a few unforced errors and double faults.
But overall, I think the things went her way in the third set. She really had the momentum. It's amazing I was able to come out and pull it out.
Q. Could you imagine six months ago getting a standing ovation on Rod Laver Arena?
JELENA DOKIĆ: No, I could not. I said 2008 and 2009 are the years I'm going to try and come back and do something. I've put in a lot of hard work last year - especially the end of last year.
You know, I've just been really, really focused and really wanted it so bad. Things are going really well at the moment. I couldn't imagine a better start to the year. In Brisbane, I said it was a good start. I lost to Amélie [Mauresmo] in two tight sets. I had her in both sets, and I could have won that match.
I just wasn't in that position for a long time, and I didn't know how to treat the situation and what to play.
You know, I was very proud of that match, even. But, you know, to be in the third round of a Grand Slam [sic], you know, players lose match-fitness and their physical shape and their shots in six months away from the game, let alone the three years. To beat a top-twenty player is amazing.
Q. How much did that match you were talking about there help you in the tight situations?
JELENA DOKIĆ: You know, like I said, she's the one that I think had the pressure on her. She was supposed to win today. She was the clear favourite, so that went kind of in my favour. But I think as the match went on, and as I was up, I was up the whole time until the tiebreak in the second set.
She kind of just went on with it. I really had to finish it off. She is a fighter. She always hangs in there. But this is a huge confidence-boost for me.
You know, no matter what happens from here on, I'm really happy with such a good start to the year. I want to be top 50 by the end of the year, and I think if I continue playing like I have been playing, this should be achievable.
Q. What was the reason you went quite a few times to play in Italy? It was because you won Rome and you performed well there? Some psychological reason?
JELENA DOKIĆ: Well, I feel good in Italy. I played really well there. It was my first title, so there's no question about that. Clay is not my favourite surface, so I wanted to play on clay and really build my game a little.
That surface doesn't suit me. You have to play long matches and points. I think that went in my favour. It was just comfortable. It felt like the most natural thing to do. It was in Europe, and that's where I was training at the time. I think that really helped me.
You have some wins and you have some losses, but you really have to grind it out. It's tough, no matter what people think. The ITF circuit is, you know, we're all trying to win out there.
Q. Are you getting used to using your emotions and using the crowd and using the way you're feeling?
JELENA DOKIĆ: Yeah, I came back I think two or three years ago to Australia, and obviously the crowd, I didn't expect them to be on my side and to understand what happened seven years ago. You know, each year it's gotten better and better.
But, you know, I will regret the decision that I made. I can say that I made it under the influence of my dad, but I will regret leaving for the rest of my life. It will always be the mistake that I made.
But, you know, it's really amazing. The crowd has just gotten better and better every year in Brisbane already.
But I think tonight was an amazing experience. It's been the best that I've ever had. I don't expect everybody to understand, of course. But, look, I'm trying my best. I'm fighting and playing for this country. You know, I'm proud to play for this country again.
So, you know, I think by the reaction tonight, people have really - things have swung my way, and I'm really happy about that. I was really glad to make the decision three years ago to come back.
Q. Does it play on your mind? Do you wonder what if you hadn't had those years in the wilderness?
JELENA DOKIĆ: Yeah, it always does. But, look, I cannot go back and change things. What's done is done. I can only look forward. I think we all can. Hopefully the crowd can do that as well.
Q. Can you talk about the role that your boyfriend and his brother have played in your career?
JELENA DOKIĆ: Like I said the other day, it's been really tough to deal with some personal issues. My boyfriend has always been there for me. It's actually our five-and-a-half years' anniversary today. We always give each other something, and this is my present to him today.
Yeah, he's played a huge part in everything. When you have emotional breakdowns and everything I had to deal with, you really get weak mentally. It's not easy to come back and be strong, and able to compete and play. It's really tough. So I really had to work on and build that.
You go crazy basically, and you react the way you shouldn't. He's dealt with all that and stuck by my side, so...
Q. Do you still dream of maybe winning a Grand Slam? Getting back to the top 10?
JELENA DOKIĆ: I think that's a little bit too much to ask right now. Like I said, players after six months out of the game really struggle coming back. It takes a long time. I actually think I react well and I improve quickly and my confidence goes up quickly, which plays a huge part in my game.
Of course I don't expect to win here - not this year. After what I've been through, like I said, my goal is to be in the top 20 by the end of my career. If I do that, I'll be satisfied.
You know, I will try as hard as I can to even do better if it's possible. We'll see how I go. It's a good start. It's a great start to have third week of the year and have a top-twenty win in a Grand Slam [sic]. Hopefully I can keep it going.
Q. Your next opponent will be Wozniacki. What do you know about her, and how do you see your chances?
JELENA DOKIĆ: I watched a little bit. I don't know her that well. I don't know a lot of the players that have come up. I haven't watched tennis that much in the last couple [of] years. Of course it will be a tough match.
After today and getting these two wins here, I really don't care what happens in the next match. I really want to put a good performance in. Again, she's a favourite. She'll be a tougher match. She has all the pressure on her.
Q. Did you read anything in these days that you would have not liked to read?
JELENA DOKIĆ: I don't read the papers that much, honestly. You know, you always expect to get positive press and negative, and it's something that comes with this line of work. It's normal.
But, yeah, like I said, I just try to do my best on the court and, yeah, I will try not to read the papers too much.
Q. How is your injury, and is it going to affect your next round?
JELENA DOKIĆ: It's been here for a while. I'm trying to treat it and keep it as good as possible, but I pulled up well after my first match. Wasn't sore at all. We'll see how I go tomorrow.
It's something that's not so serious. It's something that I just have to keep an eye on.
Aussie hope Dokić beats Chakvetadze [Teletext 495->498]
Dokić shocks Chakvetadze [Teletext 498]
Jelena Dokić scored her first win over a top-twenty player for five years to book her third-round place in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old former world No.4 took the first set 6-4 against 17th-seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze, but let slip a 4-1 lead in the second before going down in the tiebreak 7/4.
Dokić raced into a 3-1 lead in the decider, and sealed a 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 win when Chakvetadze double-faulted.
Determined Dokić drops Chakvetadze
By Vanessa Skendaris (www.australianopen.com)
Australian Jelena Dokić has beaten 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena crowd on Wednesday night: 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3.
In a competitive first set, both players held their serve in the first six games. Chakvetadze was the first to win a break for the match, but Dokić broke back straight away, levelling the opening set at four games apiece.
Dokić - a former world No.4 - went on to win the next two games, breaking Chakvetadze again and pinching the set 6-4.
It looked like Dokić had the second set under control as she dashed to a 4-1 lead, running all over the 21-year-old Russian.
But Chakvetadze worked the Australian hard, winning the next two games and bringing herself back into the match.
The set then became an exchange of breaks as Chakvetadze found her range and levelled the set 5-5, eventually forcing it to a tiebreak.
Dokić - a 2000 Wimbledon semi-finalist - made numerous errors in the tiebreak, which gave Chakvetadze a mini-break, the Russian ultimately snatching it 7/4 in a set that lasted 52 minutes.
In the deciding set, the 25-year-old Australian raced to a 3-1 lead, moving well around the court despite calling for a trainer for treatment on her ankle in the first exchange of ends.
Serving to stay in the match at 3-5 down, Chakvetadze saved two match-points, but failed to survive another, handing the match to Dokić by serving a double fault.
Dokić, who received a standing ovation after her win, has set up a tantalising clash with 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the next round.
* Chakvetadze served five aces to Dokić's three, but paid the price for 16 double faults.
* The Russian had 50 unforced errors to Dokić's 35.
* Chakvetadze had more winners: 28-27.
* Dokić only capitalised on 6 of 15 break-point opportunities, while Chakvetadze converted 3 of her 7 break-point chances.
Making up for lost time
By Eleanor Preston (www.australianopen.com)
Jelena Dokić is fast becoming one of the most compelling stories of this tournament, and she created another intriguing chapter by beating 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze in a sizzler of a night-session match on Wednesday.
Dokić's resurgence has given the public – both in her adopted country and around the world – the chance to get to know this complex and characterful young woman a little more than they did when she first burst onto the scene as a teenager.
In those days, Dokić hit the ball fiercely, and proved, by reaching as high as No.4 in the world, that she had talent in abundance - but the controversy surrounding her father Damir rather eclipsed her personality. Perhaps as a consequence of what must have been an immensely difficult personal life, Dokić was guarded in public. Now, estranged from her father and back under Australian colours after a short-lived return to Serbia – a move encouraged by Damir - she has opened her heart.
"You know, I will regret the decision that I made. I can say that I made it under the influence of my dad, but I will regret leaving for the rest of my life. It will always be the mistake that I made," said Dokić, when asked about the crowd's reaction to her against Chakvetadze. "It's really amazing. The crowd has just gotten better and better every year. But I think tonight was an amazing experience. It's been the best that I've ever had. I don't expect everybody to understand, of course. But, look, I'm trying my best. I'm fighting and playing for this country. I'm proud to play for this country again. So, you know, I think by the reaction tonight, people have really... things have swung my way, and I'm really happy about that. I was really glad to make the decision three years ago to come back."
Many of those in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena must have read her compelling but rather sad story in the local newspapers, and it is one of the reasons why her arrival on court was greeted with a throaty roar. Granted, the Melbourne Park faithful like to get behind their home-players, but their reaction to Dokić was about more than that; it was a warm rush of empathy which welcomed her back onto one of the sport's biggest stages.
Dokić does not give much away on court, but the television-pictures of her waiting for announcer Craig Willis to say her name told their own story about what it meant for her to be back on centre court. In the doorway and just out of the public's view, her eyes shone and she allowed herself a brief smile before Willis's trademark tone beckoned her onto court. Her demeanour changed instantly as the game-face came down and she walked out, ready to do battle against Chakvetadze.
Together, they produced a match of enduring quality and drama, and arguably the pick of the women's matches so far at this tournament. There were times when they were so closely matched in their standards and styles of play that it was hard to distinguish between them, dressed as they were in green and white and sporting almost matching ponytails.
Dokić's game is a tad less crafty than Chakvetadze's, for the Russian has a remarkable knack for surprise and disguise in her shots. But she could not match Dokić for purity of ball-striking.
The only threat to Dokić's chances of winning seemed to be the sheer importance of the match to the Australian, and there was a distinct wobble when she first came to serve for it at 5-3 up in the second set. The crowd willed her to finish Chakvetadze off, but the Russian's obstinacy and some frazzled nerves from the home-player saw to it that there would be a third set.
Dokić, to her credit, regrouped quickly after losing the tiebreak, and was soon up a break and set fair on her journey back to the big time.
"Thank you all for supporting me," Dokić told the crowd afterwards, her voice cracking with emotion. "It's great. I really wanted to put in a good performance in tonight. This crowd really pulled me through, and they were unbelievable. No matter what happens from here, this has been an amazing experience, and a memory I will not forget for a long time."
She even got a laugh out of them when she was asked about how she thought she might fare against talented young Dane Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. "Honestly? I don't care," she said, before that smile of hers returned. After all that Dokić has been through, you could not blame her for wanting to enjoy her moment to the full.
Dokić Win Over No.17 Seed Augurs Well For Comeback
Jelena Dokić's comeback from tennis-oblivion converted from dream to reality on Wednesday night, when the former world No.4 beat No.17 seed Anna Chakvetadze in their second-round match at the Australian Open: 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3.
Playing on Rod Laver Arena for the first time in eight long years, the 25-year-old not only outplayed her more fancied opponent stroke-for-stroke, she never let the tension of the occasion get the better of her. It was as if she'd never been away.
Years of family-breakdown, depression and disenchantment with tennis were quickly forgotten as Dokić made an aggressive start, breaking Chakvetadze - who is struggling with her own loss-of-form issues - and holding on to take the first set with surprising ease.
As the Russian's double-fault and unforced-error count mounted in the second set, Dokić served for the match at 5-3. However, Chakvetadze regained her composure, capitalising on a momentary loss of concentration on Dokić's part. With some crafty play of her own, the 21-year-old took the set in a tiebreak.
But Dokić shrugged off that disappointment by breaking her opponent in the first game of the decider, and although Chakvetadze would draw level and then seize a break of her own for 4-3, Dokić married patience and power to win three games in a row. Chakvetadze capitulated on Dokić's third match-point, scooping a backhand long.
"I think she had a slow start, but she's a fighter, and she began to play really well in that second set," observed Dokić, who reached the semis at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old, and has five Tour-titles to her name. "I let her off that 5-3 game where I had 30/15 and did a few unforced errors and double faults.
"She was the one with all the pressure, and I think that helped me. I just wanted to put on a good performance, and then things started going my way. This is a big confidence-boost."
If one casualty of the Dokić family's dramas was the player's relationship with the Australian public, it was clear after the 2-hour, 16-minute contest that the world No.187 appreciated the heartfelt homecoming.
"Thank you all for supporting me: it's unbelievable," said Dokić, her voice cracking as the sell-out crowd stood in ovation. "It's been an amazing night, and no matter what happens from here on in, I will not forget this for a long time."
Dokić, who secured her place in the draw by winning a wild-card play-off event run by Tennis Australia in December, faces No.11 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. At least tonight, the intense competitor professed to be pretty sanguine about the prospect.
"You know, no matter what happens from here on, I'm really happy with such a good start to the year," Dokić said. "I want to be top 50 by the end of the year, and I think if I continue playing like I have been playing, this should be achievable.
"My goal is to be top 20 [again] by the end of my career," she smiled. "If I do that, I'll be satisfied."
Safin-family surges through Open with Federer
By Ossian Shine (editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Former world number-four Jelena Dokić thrilled a seething mass of green and gold local fans by beating Russian 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze 6-4 6-7 6-3.
"I've just been really, really focused and really wanted it so bad," the on-again-off-again-on-again Australian said.
"Things are going really well at the moment."
Triumphant Dokić wins back support of Australians (Reuters)
By Julian Linden (editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Jelena Dokić, riding high on a wave of public sympathy and support, upset Russian 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze 6-4 6-7 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
The Serbian-born Australian registered her first win over a player ranked in the top-twenty for five years, and her first victory on Melbourne Park's centre court for a decade.
Dokić's brave win was charged with a combination of raw emotion and pain.
Facing an opponent ranked 169 places above her, Dokić tried to keep her feelings under control as she tried to mend her fractured relationship with the Australian public.
"I was very nervous to be on centre court again. It's been a long time," said the 25-year-old, who struggled with an Achilles' injury during the match.
"She had a slow start, but she started to play really well in that second set.
"She really had the momentum. It's amazing I was able to come out and pull it out."
Although she began her playing-career in Australia, Dokić's relationship with her adopted country turned sour when her family returned to Serbia in 2001 after her now-estranged father Damir accused Australian Open organisers of rigging the draw to ensure his daughter lost in the first round.
Two years later, Dokić walked out on her family and returned to Australia. Her relationship with her family has never been the same, and she is trying to patch things up with Australia.
Earlier this week, Dokić broke down and revealed the extent of the pain and torment she endured since breaking up with her own family.
The former world number-four pleaded for understanding.
"I made it under the influence of my dad, but I will regret leaving for the rest of my life. It will always be the mistake that I made," she told a news-conference on Wednesday.
"I don't expect everybody to understand, of course, but I'm trying my best."
Dokić was wildly cheered by the crowd at Melbourne Park and appreciated the backing.
"I'm fighting and playing for this country. I'm proud to play for this country again, and I think by the reaction tonight... things have swung my way," she said.
"I cannot go back and change things. What's done is done. I can only look forward. I think we all can. Hopefully the crowd can do that as well."
Jelena Dokić shows emotion after 'amazing win' at Australian Open (The Daily Telegraph - UK)
An emotional Jelena Dokić scored her first win over a top-twenty player in five years when she downed 17th seed Anne Chakvetadze 6-4 6-7 (7/4) 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open.
The 25-year-old, who is known as much for her estranged father Damir's antics during the early part of her career as she is for her tennis, described the crowd's reaction during the thrilling three-setter as "amazing".
Dokić only picked up her racquet again at the end of 2007 after battling depression and other personal issues in the two years prior.
"I came back two or three years ago to Australia, and obviously the crowd, I didn't expect them to be on my side, and to understand what happened seven years ago," Dokić said.
"I will regret that decision that I made. I can say that I made it under the influence of my dad, but I will regret leaving for the rest of my life. It will always be the mistake that I made.
"But I think tonight was an amazing experience. It's been the best that I've ever had."
In a match that lasted over two hours, Dokić looked composed throughout, and used her powerful groundstrokes to run her Russian opponent around the court.
But she interspersed that by coming to the net on occasions to force the error from Chakvetadze, and with the Russian battling fatigue in the final set, Dokić was able to hold her nerve to claim her confidence-boosting win.
Her efforts have earned her a match with 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-3 6-3.
Dokić's dream continues (Linda Pearce, The Age)
Jelena Dokić has taken the most important step in her improbable comeback, beating her first top-twenty opponent in more than five years to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in a decade. She was reduced to tears, but rewarded with a standing ovation. At 25, Dokić's career has begun again.
Still carrying some extra kilograms, but no longer the burden of the paternal tyranny that ruled her life for so long, Dokić upset 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 in 137 minutes before a capacity-crowd that contributed to a record one-day attendance at any Major of 63,557.
This time last year, Dokić had fallen off the computer, having battled depression that affected her so badly that some days her victory lay in simply getting out of bed. Now she is back to 187th, and will tomorrow face Danish sensation Caroline Wozniacki - the 11th seed - for a place in the fourth round. Not so long ago, how unthinkable that would have been, for not since 2006 had she even played a Major match, much less won one.
"It's been a long time," Dokić said before leaving the court. "The last time I played on this court, the story was a bit different, but thank you all for supporting me; it feels really unbelievable. It's been an amazing night, and no matter what happens from here on, this is an amazing experience and a memory I will not forget for a long time."
And how would she recover ahead of her match against Wozniacki, Dokić professed not to care. This had been achievement enough. "She's a great player. I have nothing to lose, and I'll just try to play good tennis."
Later, she spoke of her regrets at following her father's instructions to return to represent her birth-nation: Serbia; of her top-fifty ambitions by the end of the year, and top twenty eventually. Dokić also dedicated the win to her boyfriend, Tin Bikic, as a present to celebrate the couple's five-and-a-half-year-anniversary.
The Serbian-born Australian's first-round defeat of Austrian teenager Tamira Paszek was her first in a decade at the Australian Open, but she had not won on Rod Laver Arena in her two previous attempts - against Martina Hingis in the third round of 1999, and Lindsay Davenport in the opening round two years later.
Chakvetadze is not in the class of either former No.1, although once ranked as high as fifth, and now 18th. Last night, indeed, she was well below it for much of the early stages, playing so limply that she appeared close to tears at 1-4 in the second set.
In contrast to a tense final practice-session in which she ordered a replacement hitting-partner and left coach Borna Bikic in no doubt about her displeasure, Dokić appeared composed and calm. She also appeared utterly intent, while tightening considerably in the latter stages of a second set she failed to serve out at 5-3. The tiebreak, too, was disappointing, and the danger was that, knowing the match should already be over, she would fall away in the third.
But, in fact, Dokić gained the early service-break, and managed to hang on through the final six games of an extremely tense decider in which she called a trainer to inspect a sore right foot while leading 2-1. Of immense help was the shaky Chakvetadze serve - the Russian finishing with consecutive double faults: her 15th and 16th of the match.
Dokić won the wild-card play-off last month, and was named for a Fed Cup recall after pushing Amélie Mauresmo in the first round of the Brisbane International, but then withdrew from the Hobart qualifying-event with an Achilles' injury that did nothing to endear her to the locals anticipating the return of one of the few local drawcards in the women's game.
But there was no question about the crowd's support last night, which Dokić discovered to her surprise and delight. Her great mistake and regret, she said, had been to renounce her Australian status - however much it had been forced upon her. "I don't expect everybody to understand, of course, but I'm trying my best, and I'm proud to play for this country," she said.
Much of her career prize-money is gone - lining the pockets of Damir - but Dokić told The Age recently that the financial price was one she was prepared to pay to gain the independence that was at once liberating and terrifying. She needed to escape a dire situation, but was left alone and, often, bereft. She was depressed, and struggled with her mind and body.
But now she is competing again - for what she admits is the last time.
"I said that 2008 and 2009 are the years I'm just trying to come back and play again, and do something, and I have put in a lot of hard work last year - especially at the end of the year - and I have been really, really focused, and just wanted it so badly," she said. "Things are going well at the moment. I couldn't dream a better start to the year."
Brave Jelena Dokić scores vintage Australian Open win
By Nikki Tugwell (The Daily Telegraph - Australia)
Jelena Dokić dedicated her win last night to the most important man in her life.
Estranged from her father Damir, her boyfriend Tin Bikic has been her rock for the past five-and-a-half years, and after securing a third-round berth with victory against Russian Anna Chakvetadze, she said it was a gift to him.
"It's been really tough to deal with some personal issues," Dokić said.
"My boyfriend has always been there for me.
"It's our five-and-a-half years anniversary today... this is my present to him today."
After being in the tennis-wilderness for the past five years, the former world No.4 certainly won back the hearts of her adopted country with an inspirational performance, fighting off an Achilles' injury-scare to prevail 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 in a 2h17m epic.
Her boyfriend's brother Borna is Dokić's coach, and after her three-set win, the siblings embraced emotionally.
"When you have emotional breakdowns and everything I had to deal with, you really get weak mentally," Dokić said.
"It's not easy to come back and be strong and able to compete and play.
"It's really tough. You go crazy, basically, and you react the way you shouldn't.
"He's dealt with all that and stuck by my side."
^As have I! There have been times in the last five years when I've felt disappointed in Jelena (now that I know the extent to which she was affected by her family-problems, I am more understanding of what I perceived at the time as a loss of motivation), and I've had to endure numerous false dawns of a comeback, but I never for a moment regretted inducting her into my Eternal Fanship.
Emotional Jelena Dokić turns back time (Courtney Walsh, The Australian)
A decade after announcing her arrival as a tennis-prodigy at Melbourne Park, Jelena Dokić stands a win away from her finest Australian Open performance after last night upsetting talented Russian Anna Chakvetadze.
Despite a second-set wobble and third-set injury scare, Dokić made the third round of her home Major for only the second time with the 6-4 6-7 (7/4) 6-3 win over the 17th seed.
Dokić was just 15 when she recorded her best Australian Open appearance, though she was thrashed by then world No.1 Martina Hingis in that third-round encounter in 1999.
More than a generation has passed since, with her next opponent rising Danish star Caroline Wozniacki - among the hottest players on the Tour now - aged only eight at the time.
But asked how she felt about playing the world No.12, the message was simple, given the personal enormity of last night's achievement.
"Honestly, right now I don't care," Dokić said, close to tears.
"No matter what happens, I hope to play well."
The three-set victory over Chakvetadze is important for several reasons. From a tennis-perspective, it proves Dokić still has the game to match it with the sport's elite, for Chakvetadze is a significant talent who reached a career-high ranking of five in 2007: the year she reached her maiden Major semi-final in the US.
By reaching the third round, Dokić will receive a significant rankings-boost from her position of #187, which will further her chances of gaining entry into the year's remaining Majors.
It will also boost her chances of landing sponsorships to ease the financial burden.
Following Dokić's opening-round win over Austrian Tamira Paszek, she was coy when asked about wearing Fila-clothing a fortnight after appearing in Adidas-apparel in Brisbane, describing it as a "work in progress".
The quality of the 25-year-old's strokeplay from the baseline, and her ability to overcome problems in the second and third sets, should further her cause when pushing for new deals.
Dokić proved early on that she had benefited from her three-set opening-round win over Paszek - her first Major match in three years - with her powerful groundstrokes finding their mark early.
But it was Chakvetadze who made the initial move, establishing an advantage when breaking Dokić in the seventh game of the first set.
Dokić, who steadily improved her ranking on the ITF circuit last year - after controversially missing out on a wild card into the 2008 Australian Open - showed she was ready for the occasion by breaking immediately.
She continued that momentum to claim the first set, her groundstrokes carrying the power and accuracy that once saw her labelled a legitimate contender to win a Major.
While Chakvetadze is an élite talent, a weakness is her renowned volatility, and it appeared this could hinder her chances of fighting back.
Dokić was outstanding early in the second set, achieving her second break to reach a 4-1 lead, but a lack of match-play at the upper echelon told as she struggled to put her 21-year-old opponent away.
Twice the Australian moved to within two points of claiming the match in straight sets, with only inches defying her on the second try, as attempts at outright winners narrowly missed the line.
The lack of match-craft was pivotal with Dokić trailing at 3/4 in the second set tiebreak. After opening up the court, the Australian overplayed a simple forehand to gift the world No.18 the advantage she needed to level the match.
Dokić refused to lament the missed opportunity, breaking immediately in the third.
However, an Achilles' problem that caused Dokić to withdraw from an event in Hobart last week seemed a concern as the former world No.4 led 2-0, with a trainer called to the court at the next change of ends.
But it proved little hindrance, with Dokić's court-coverage a feature as she maintained the pressure on her younger opponent by successfully chasing balls from one side to the other.
While Dokić squandered two match-points at 5-3, it was the Russian that faltered, serving successive double faults to hand the Australian a memorable victory.
"It was unbelievable," she said.
"No matter what happens from here, it is an amazing experience, and a moment I will not forget for a long time.
"I really wanted to put in a good performance... and things started going my way, and then I got nervous, but this crowd really pulled me through."
3. Women's Doubles: First-round result (Thursday 22nd January 2009)
- Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Alisa Kleybanova lt. CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER , 2-6 3-6
4. More reports to come!
This completes Phase 1 of my Australian Open 2009 reports - the daily reports while the tournament was running, and then tending to the fallen.
Phase 2 is to finish the full BBC TV-reports for my Eternal Fanship over the coming weekends. This includes Anna's first-round match against Anne Keothavong (ETA 8th February 2009).
Phase 3 is to order other matches involving my Eternal Fanship from Tennis Videos International <http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/> when the 2009 tennis-season is over, and to write up full TV-reports over the Christmas-holidays. This includes Anna's second-round match with Jelena Dokić (ETA 27th December 2009).
The above dates are pessimistic estimates, and are subject to change in either direction. I am bound by my vows of Eternal Fanship to complete Phase 2, but Phase 3 is an optional extra, as I have not actually vowed to order any matches from Tennis Videos international, nor vowed to write them up if I do.
I did consider ordering the Phase 3 matches immediately after the Australian Open, but due to the large number of matches versus the limited time I'll have to write them up, and me having a significant backlog coming out of the Australian Open, that plan is scratched... probably (my Passion says "order them now", but my Reason says "wait until the off-season").
Dr. Andrew Broad
Last edited by andrewbroad; Feb 4th, 2009 at 12:24 AM.