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May 3rd, 2002, 11:58 PM
Dokic can't play on clay?

An Italian Open champion last year, Jelena has made her way through the semis of the Betty Barclay Cup, when many were predicting a 1st round loss to Anastasia Myskina. Dokic reached the same round last year, where she recovered from a matchpoint to defeate 4th seeded Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the quarters.
Jelena coasted her way to the Italian title, losing 1 set, to Patty Schnyder, beating Amelia Island and German Open champion Amelie Mauresmo 7-6(3) 6-1 in the final.
In 2000, Dokic began well, upsetting 7th seeded Amy Frazier 6-2 6-2 to reach the quarters of the Family Circle Cup. She took the most amount of games off Mary Pierce in the quarters, Pierce went on to take the title comfortably. An upset of 14th seed Nathalie Decy in Rome that year, led to her thumping 3rd seeded Venus Williams 6-1 6-2 in the 3rd round. Venus had come off a 6-1 6-1 win over Rubin, but in her defense, was recovering from an injury, but the loss drove Williams to tears.
Dokic, still inexperienced on the clay, took eventual champion Monica Seles to 3 sets in the quarters, falling 3-6 in the 3rd.
In 1999, Dokic progressed to 2 quarterfinals at clay events, even beating 6th seed Magui Serna 6-1 6-0 en route to the quaretrs at Cairo, backing up the next week to make the Warsaw quarters.
Dokic's clay success hasn't been solely on the pro tour. In 1998, as a junior Dokic claimed the Santa Croce and Astrid Bowl titles, both Grade 1 events. Dokic also made a run to the French Junior final, before falling to Petrova. In that space of time in 1998 on the clay, Dokic beat Bedanova, Salerni, Danilidou, Pisnik, Dementieva and beat Clijsters in straight sets in the final of the Belgium event.

However, Dokic's breakout year on the clay was apparent last year, as she made her way to the semis of the Betty Barclay Cup, beating 5th seeded Magdalena Maleeva 6-1 6-1 and Sanchez-Vicario before falling to eventual champion Venus Williams. Then came the German Open, where Dokic took future French Open champion, Jennifer Capriati to a 5-7 6-3 4-6 match, Dokic falling by the narrowest of margin. An easy win aganst 2000 French Open 4th rounder Asa Svensson began her campaign in Italy, which led to thumping wins over Martinez and Mauresmo.
Dokic began the French Open in fashion, losing 3 games in her first 2 matches. A disastrous 3rd round match saw Dokic fall out of the tournament, in a match she said deflated her confidence till after the US Open.
Dokic has been suffering injuries this year, but when fit she has shown what she can produce, with wins over Seles, Dementieva and Henin. A clay title winner in Sarasota, Dokic, suffering from a stomach virus made the semis at Amelia Island. Now, almost injury free, Dokic has won 4 sets in a row to make the Betty Barclay Cup semis and will have a tough task against 2nd seed Kim Clijsters, a Roland Garros finalist last year. A win oer Henin however will give Dokic confidence, Henin is of course, a magician on the clay and Dokic's ability to make Henin run led her to win the match.

It seems that the early analysis of the board, which Dokic virtually no chance of succeeding on the clay is slowly being proven wrong.



Give us more success on the clay Jelena!

May 4th, 2002, 12:08 AM
I don't doubt she can play on clay - my only question is whether she can beat the top players on this surface on a regular basis.

She has had big wins this year over Monica and Justine - she has every opportunity to build on those victories. Probably this week will tell us if she's ready to string those kind of wins together in succession.