Dokic rebuilds her career in the green and gold
The naturalised Australian is thriving again down under
Wednesday 07 January 2009
Jelena Dokic has stumbled from one crisis to another since creating one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history with her victory over Martina Hingis 10 years ago, but evidence of a new-found stability in the 25-year-old's life was confirmed yesterday. Two years after her Serbian father was reported to have threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Sydney after his daughter returned to Australia, Dokic was named for the first time in eight years in her adopted country's Fed Cup squad.
Dokic, who will join Sam Stosur, Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs to play for Australia in the Asia-Oceania zone tournament in Perth next month, has shown a new-found determination to rebuild her career in recent times. She recently won a play-off for a wild card at the Australian Open, which begins in less than a fortnight, and earlier this week gave Amélie Mauresmo a hard match before losing 7-6, 7-6 to the former Wimbledon champion in the first round of the Brisbane International.
There have been previous attempts at a comeback, but this time Dokic looks both committed and fit, having shed a substantial amount of weight since the start of last year, when she did not even have a world ranking. The match against Mauresmo was her first on the main Sony Ericsson tour since last May, but Dokic has kept herself busy, winning three minor tournaments in the last year and climbing back to No 177 in the world rankings. She is working with a Croatian coach, Borna Bikic, whose brother, Tin, is her long-time boyfriend.
Nevertheless, it is all a far cry from the days when she was No 4 in the world, having announced her arrival with a stunning 6-2, 6-0 victory over Hingis, the No 1 seed, in the first round at Wimbledon in 1999. Dokic beat Mary Pierce on her way to the quarter-finals that year and went one stage further 12 months later before losing to Lindsay Davenport.
Dokic moved to Australia from Serbia 14 years ago. However, her father, Damir, fell out with the Australian authorities in 2001, after which she briefly pledged her future allegiance to Serbia-Montenegro.
Damir had a series of run-ins with officialdom. He was ejected from the Edgbaston tournament after lying down in the middle of the road, was thrown out of Wimbledon after stamping on a journalist's phone and was suspended from the women's tour for six months after going into a rage over the price of salmon at the US Open.
Dokic has now been estranged for several years from her father, who is still living in Serbia, and has been trying to rebuild her life and career in Australia. However, it has not always been possible for her to put her past behind her. Two years ago Damir gave an interview to a Serbian newspaper in which he was reported to have accused Croatia and the Vatican of influencing Jelena's decision to return to Australia, and threatened to kidnap his daughter, kill an Australian and drop a nuclear bomb on Sydney.
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