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Damir, I mean :devil:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,18614188%255E2702,00.html

Serbs find generous Dokic 'difficult'
Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent
March 27, 2006


DAMIR Dokic's new life in a small Serbian village has involved much more of an effort to win friends than he ever made in Australia.

In Australia he was famous as the "mad dad" of tennis, ranting at officials, earning bans from grand slam events and eventually stomping off back to Serbia, from where he threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Australia for luring away his daughter Jelena.

Since arriving in the struggling village of Vrdnik he has bought a fountain for the rundown town square, put on a festival for the locals featuring free beer and a roasted ox, and even paid for a new fence for the school.

The locals have been delighted by his generosity but some are still a little wary about their new benefactor.
"He has a good soul but he can be ... well, a bit difficult," says Mayor Zivko Lezakov with a diplomatic smile.

"He has done a lot for the village but he can be temperamental. It all depends what mood he is in." Indeed.


Lezakov is keen to get on well with Dokic but others in the town say the mayor has had a hard time dealing with what can euphemistically be described as Dokic's forceful personality.

Dokic moved to Vrdnik only after falling out with officials in the capital Belgrade over their refusal to allow him to build a tennis and sports centre there on public parkland.

Sitting in a heavily forested range of hills dotted with ancient Orthodox monasteries, Vrdnik is the poorest municipality in its province and is desperate for investment but Dokic has again become embroiled in a town planning dispute. This time the row is over his desire to build a petrol station, which is backed by the local council but has been blocked by Belgrade.

The former truck driver is easily the richest person in Vrdnik, having reportedly received a payout of $1.3million from his daughter Jelena when they severed their tennis relationship.

He has built a mansion overlooking the town, with a Serbian flag proudly fluttering from his own flagpole outside the front door. The house has a triple garage and is surrounded by landscaped gardens, an artificial lake and a basketball court.

Out the back is a sparkling new fruit processing plant for his new business making brandy from plums and prunes, which will create badly needed jobs in a town with just a few struggling factories.

While Dokic lives in Vrdnik, locals say his wife Liliana and teenage son Savo spend most of their time in the family's apartment in Belgrade, where Savo is in the eighth grade at high school.

A barbed-wire fence surrounds the new house but vandals broke into the orchard last year and destroyed some trees, prompting Dokic to employ a night security guard.

"The vandals were motivated by envy," according to Miodrag Vondracek, who owns a seed shop not far from Dokic's home. "It is part of our mentality for people to be jealous and spiteful and somebody wanted to hurt him despite everything he has done for the village."

The Australian telephoned and visited Dokic's house several times but he refused to be interviewed, saying he would only do so for $25,000.

"I am sick of being mocked in the Australian media," he said angrily, speaking in Serbian through the intercom at the end of his long driveway.

He insisted there was no point in talking about his estranged daughter, whom he believes has fallen under the influence of a Croatian boyfriend.

Jelena has resumed playing as an Australian, blaming her father for her decision to return to Serbia in 2001, when she was 17, after seven years in Australia.

"The whole story about my daughter is the saddest story in the world," he said through the intercom.

"She is ruined. She was the fourth (ranked) in the world and the first in Europe and now look where she is."

She is now ranked 451, below 14 other Australian women.

"She has been destroyed as a player and will be as a human being unless the police save her. "She was the most beautiful tennis player in the world, along with Anna Kournikova, and now look at what they have done to her."
 

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Helen Lawson said:
Is there some reason why this guy gets more press than most of the girls outside the Top Ten? It's the same crap over and over.

I do agree, when she was playing, lookswise, she was second only to Anna.
I definitely think only for a damp dreary Friday evening at Roland Garros. And big jugs Mandula being in good form. She could have well won that title? Or gone darn close.
 
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