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Jun 21, 2006

Jelena Dokic although will not be playing a part in this years Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, under new coach Dado Mejoli hopes to resurect her tennis career.(Cameron Spencer)

Australia's Jelena Dokic is confident new coach Dado Majoli can help resurrect her stalled tennis career which took another knock in a dramatic first round exit from Wimbledon qualifying on Wednesday 21st June.

Dokic was trying to get into the grand slam tournament where she made her name as a 16-year-old qualifier seven years ago by beating world No.1 Martina Hingis 6-2 6-0 in 1999 en route to the quarter-finals before reaching the semi-finals the following year.

But the former world No.4 is now ranked 681 and aged 23 and nothing comes as easily on court as it once did.

Dokic was pitted against American Alexandra Stevenson, a player in a similar situation.

Stevenson, ranked 143 and returning from injury, was also the player who beat Dokic in that Wimbledon quarterfinal in 1999.

On Wednesday, Dokic was one set ahead and serving at 5-4 up in the second when she committed three double faults in a row to give Stevenson a crucial break and eventual victory 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 at Roehampton.

Despite the disappointment, Dokic, competing as Australian after switching allegiances back from her native Serbia last year, believes she is headed in the right direction with new coach Majoli.

"I feel like it's working well, I don't think I was at this level a couple of months ago," Dokic said.

"We said we would try it ... I think he wants to work and I'm willing to work with him and I think he can help me.

"He's been through a lot obviously with Iva and I think he knows what I need and how tough it is to come back and I need someone in a situation like this who can lift me up again."

Like Dokic, Iva Majoli reached a career-high ranking of No.4.

She beat Hingis in the 1997 French Open final but, after a quarterfinals appearance at Roland Garros in 1998, she Majoli failed to reach the third round of another Grand Slam event and retired in 2004.

Following her well-documented family problems, particularly with outspoken father Damir, Dokic's career and ranking plummeted.

After realigning with Australia, Dokic received a wildcard to this year's Australian Open but exited in the first round.

"I went all the way up, now I'm all the way down," said Dokic, who also received a wildcard to Wimbledon qualifying.

"I feel like I have a long way to go, but I would like to try to come back still, and I think I just need to play some smaller events and mentally to get back on track.

"It's very difficult when you've been so far up to come down and play well again. It took me hundreds of matches to get there, so I think it will not take one or two now to come back."

Dokic did not want to set a time frame or any specific goals for her return, but said she aimed to get her ranking between 100 and 200 so she could make qualifying for the 2007 Australian Open.

Having played only one competitive tournament since January, Dokic admitted allowing nerves from a lack of match practice to get to her against Stevenson and said she would focus on smaller ITF events in Europe to build her confidence over the rest of the season.

"If she had beaten me 6-1 6-1 it would have been a different story," Dokic said.

"But I feel like I could have won that match and I should have won that match and you never know what could have happened from there.

"Maybe I could have qualified, maybe not."

Nicole Pratt was the only Australian woman to progress, defeating Briton Amanda Keen 7-5 6-4 to set up a second-round meeting with American Jessica Kirkland.

Russia's Galina Voskoboeva beat Australian Casey Dell'acqua in the women's first round 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Meanwhile, Wayne Arthurs beat fellow Australian Peter Luczak in the second round of men's qualifying 7-6 (13-11) 6-2.

Another Australian, Nathan Healey, was leading in the second round against Lars Burgsmuller 5-3 when the German retired, but Healey's compatriots, Robert Smeets and Alun Jones, lost their second-round matches.
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