Dec 16th, 2005, 06:51 AM
Dokic wins first match back
By Robert Grant
JELENA Dokic today celebrated her first match in Australia in four years with a straight-sets win in the Australian Open wildcard play-off at Melbourne Park.
The former world No.4 overpowered Victorian Beti Sekulovski 6-2 7-6 to move through to the second round.
Dokic, more relaxed and slowly regaining fitness, showed considerable glimpses of her skills, but her determination to earn her way into the draw was most evident.
Occasionally let down by double faults and loose shots, the 22-year-old nevertheless held firm in the second set tiebreaker after the pair had traded service breaks.
Working again with former Fed Cup captain Lesley Bowrey, who was courtside today, Dokic said she needed to work hard to regain form but was feeling much more comfortable after just 10 days back in Australia.
"I was a little bit nervous, I haven't played matches in a really long time (her last tournament was in Italy in August)," Dokic said.
"There are some things I need to improve on but I expected not to play so well in the first match.
"I feel good, I think match play will help.
"I think I got a little bit defensive. I get nervous which is normal, but that comes down to match play," she said.
"I'm not used to that - I used to play 70 or 80 matches a year so I think that will just take some time.
"I've lost my feel for playing matches and for being at tournaments but I expect to improve with each match."
Dokic said she now felt more relaxed after easing her way back into Australian tennis.
"It's much better now than the first day - I was a little bit lost the first day and I didn't know anybody.
"A lot of people have tried to help me to fit in and it's a much better feel now and we all get along a little bit better," she said.
"I don't expect everybody to be on my side but it's been great so far."
Dokic said she appreciated the chance to work again with Bowrey, who has steadfastly been one of her strongest supporters. "We haven't had much work yet but it's better, I think, someone who can help me and she knows me quite well - and she knows how I get in matches and what I need to work on," Dokic said.
Lesley coached Jelena for three years and lead her to the world no 1 junior spot. Lesley is also a former French Open champion.
Dec 16th, 2005, 08:02 AM
Good to hear. Who is her next opponent?
Dec 16th, 2005, 11:53 AM
Good to hear. Who is her next opponent?
Dec 16th, 2005, 12:12 PM
Excellent! I'm glad it didn't take long for Jelena to find a coach. The fact that Bowrey has known Jelena for years and worked with her previously is a huge bonus. :)
I hope we keep getting positive news of this sort, after so many years of only bad news about Jelena. :yeah:
Dec 16th, 2005, 12:21 PM
Stay focused Jelena, good luck sweetheart! :kiss:
Dec 16th, 2005, 03:23 PM
A more in-depth article on the coaching situation can be found here:
Dokic, coach start wild ride
JELENA Dokic yesterday reunited with former coach Lesley Bowrey and celebrated the move with victory in the first round of the Australian Open wildcard playoffs.
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Dec 16th, 2005, 05:55 PM
Good new"s.I always like Jelena.Now that"s a beautiful blond?Jelena is the full package!Good luck, Ms.Dokic.Welcome back!
Dec 16th, 2005, 06:19 PM
and that Lesley is a dual French Open champion! Well if I'd met her in the street and she's told me that I wold have laughed....more fool me. '63 and '65 - well done her.
Dec 16th, 2005, 06:32 PM
The long road back
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AdvertisementFive years on, Jelena Dokic is back in action at Melbourne Park. Linda Pearce was there to watch.
JELENA Dokic's previous match at Melbourne Park was on a floodlit Rod Laver Arena, against the world No. 2 Lindsay Davenport.
An ordeal preceded by outrageous draw-rigging allegations and a tournament-eve defection to Serbia and Montenegro ended as a downcast Dokic left the stadium with her head down and her father waiting.
Almost five years later, the world No. 349 walked onto an outside court wearing a training T-shirt and cropped no-brand trackpants.
Far from a packed house, the audience comprised about 100 curious onlookers, including media representatives, several construction workers and a vocal opposition cheer squad. Again, Dokic was playing a higher-ranked opponent, but this time of the more obscure variety — Melbourne's Beti Sekulovski, the world No. 344.
Yesterday was not about grand slam success, but simply the right to progress to the second of the four matches Dokic must win to secure a place in the Australian Open's main draw.
The week-long training camp is over, and the wildcard play-off has begun, Dokic progressing to the next stage of her hoped-for resurrection with a patchy 6-2, 7-6 victory that qualified her for today's quarter-final against Queensland 16-year-old Shayna McDowell.
Significantly, Dokic was not alone. Her former coach, Lesley Bowrey, paid her own way from Sydney to join the 22-year-old she mentored and mothered through her late teenage years.
Bowrey said last week that she would do what she could to help — we told Dokic about Bowrey's offer and, one telephone conversation later, the reunion was complete.
"Jelena called and asked me to come down, so I'm here, and I'm very happy to be here, seeing how she goes in her matches and giving her support," said Bowrey, the dual French Open champion, who watched from courtside with Dokic's Croatian boyfriend Tin Bikic.
"She just sounded like the old Jelena and she just asked me if I would be prepared to come and coach her again, so I said, 'Yeah, I'd love to do that, I've just got to sort a few things out with my own coaching at home'. I'd like to spend some time with her. She said she owed things back to people, so maybe I'm one of those."
There is also a significant debt to Tennis Australia still outstanding, so it is not surprising that its new arrangements with Dokic are still to be completed.
Bowrey met player development boss Craig Tiley on Thursday asking for funding help to travel with Dokic next year, but the reality is that no player will be given cash handouts, and all must work within the stricter rules and accountability of the new Tennis Australia system.
"We're evaluating, and we're going to continue to evaluate it collectively," Tiley said. "We're looking at everything as part of the entire program, not just an isolated incident, so I didn't say yes and I won't say yes until we've finished looking at it as part of our entire program.
"We can't just provide funding for one and not another and I've got to deal with not just one but with all our Australian players, and provide the fairest and best system for all of them to be able to access.
"Jelena will either be part of our Fed Cup squad or one of our AIS athletes, and as part of that process, she will have an opportunity to access coaching, etc."
For Dokic, it is a long road back. Her fitness is improving after an intense training week, yet she still lacks confidence and touch. She made close to 40 unforced errors in two sets, struggled on serve at times, and took more than 90 minutes to win the first match she had played since an ITF claycourt tournament in Italy in August.
She told Bowrey of her nerves before going on court, and explained how she seemed to keep pulling off the ball while hitting her groundstrokes.
Her old coach replied that Dokic simply needed to believe in herself and the fact she was a good player (at least she was, not so long ago, and should be again).
"I think sometimes I get very defensive," Dokic said later, while claiming the performance exceeded her expectations. "I get nervous, which is normal, but I think that comes down to match play, and I haven't played a lot of matches.
"I've lost my feel for playing matches and for being at tournaments, so I expected quite a bit of that and I expect it to improve with each match."
For Dokic, the ideal scenario is that she will play three more in the next three days, starting this morning against McDowell. Already, progress has been made off-court, with the former world No. 4 noting that the initial frostiness from her peers has thawed.
"It's much better now than the first day," she said. "I was a little bit lost the first day and didn't know anybody, and a lot of people have tried to help me to fit in and it's a much better feel now and we all get along a little bit better."
The key is that she is also independent. No Damir, no troubles, no distractions. And Bowrey, who worried from afar, can now help from up close once again. "I saw Jelena the Wimbledon before last and she was just going through a terrible time," Bowrey said. "I watched her play and I felt so sad to think of all the work that we'd put in together, and it had come to this, but I knew it was all a mental thing.
"Now she's back on track … she's making her own decisions. I'd thought, 'My gosh, we might never see Jelena play again' because I used to always ask, 'Where is she?' and no one seemed to know. But she's back and she's only 22, so she's got some years ahead of her."
MEN: Peter Luczak d Adam Feeney 7-5, 6-3; Joe Sirianni d Scott Doerner 4-6, 6-2, 7-5; Andrew Derer d Robert Smeets 7-5, 6-3; Andrew Coehlo d Shannon Nettle 7-5, 7-6; Luke Bourgeois d Rameez Junaid 7-6, 6-7, 6-4; Alun Jones d Todd Reid 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; Marc Kimmich d Sadik Kadir 7-5, 6-2; Raphael Durek d Nathan Healey 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
WOMEN: Trudi Musgrave d Lauren Breadmore 6-2, 6-3; Christina Horiatopoulos d Emily Hewson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5; Jelena Dokic d Beti Sekulovski 6-2, 7-6; Shayna McDowell d Daniella Dominikovic 6-3, 0-6, 6-3; Lisa D'Amelio d Tiffany Welford 6-4, 3-1 retired; Cindy Watson d Olivia Lukaszewicz 6-3, 6-2; Cassandra Barr d Holly Cao 6-4, 7-5; Monique Adamczak d Monique Wheeler 6-3, 6-1.
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