Friday, January 23, 2009

The amazing comeback of Jelena Dokic

She's back! Back for good!
World No.187 Jelena Dokic has done it. She made the impossible - possible. After being out of the limelights for five years, the feisty Aussie has found her way. She has been on everyone's mouth as she defeated two top 20 players in a row to reach the fourth round at this year's Australian Open. We all can imagine what it must mean to Jelena, but the truth is - only she knows how it feels to have regained hapiness on and off the court.

Over the last few years Jelena Dokic suffered an incredible ammount of painful expiriences.
She broke up the contact to her family - a result of her (let's say) insane father's crossing the line on too many occasions. Damir Dokic scarffed her for life. He forced her into switching nationality, cause he thought that the Australian Open draw has been fixed in order to throw Jelena out of the tourney (she was drawn to face Lindsay Davenport in her 1st round). He often has been seen drunk at tournaments and involved into fights. He was never shy of talking bullshit to the media as he once famously said he would put an atom bomb on Sydney. Damir was furious when his daughter found a boyfriend - a Formula One driver Enrico Bernoldi.

Damir Dokic

After finally breaking free from her father, Jelena completly lost her stride on the tennis court She struggled several first round losses to the point where she would play tennis only occasionally once in a while. She tried to come back on many occasions, but couldn't find the magic, that saw her reach a highest ranking of No.4 in 2001.

Dokic suffered severe depression and struggled with her weight. It was her boyfriend Tin Bikic and his brother Borna (Jelena's coach), who would keep constantly edging her on and believing she could make it happen once again.

"When you have emotional breakdowns and everything I had to deal with, you really get weak mentally," she said. "It's not easy to come back and be strong and able to compete and play. It's really tough. So I really had to work on and build that. You go crazy basically, and you react the way you shouldn't. He's dealt with all that and stuck by my side."

Dokic made a difficult decision to come back to Australia in order to change her citizenship once again. She got support from Tennis Australia, but couldn't capitalize on that.

It was this year, that Dokic decided she would give it her last shot. She wanted to give her all and hell - she did it in fashion. After losing in two tiebreak sets to former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo in two tight tiebreaks (where in both sets she had set points), Jelena skipped Sydney and went straight to Melbourne to play the Australian Open, where she earned herself a wildcard to the main draw wining a wildcard play-off.

Her expectations were very low, but somehow she managed to squeeze a win over world No.80 Tamira Paszek, a player ranked 107 spots higher in rankings than the 25 year old. Next on for Dokic was world No.18 Anna Chakvetadze. The win over the Russian was a total shock and would go down as a carrer defining moment in Dokic's career.

She opened the night session. When the speaker welcomed her to the court, the Australian crowd went totally crazy. A sigh of relief for the Aussie. After so many years she got the support of the crowd on the sold out Rod Laver Arena. Dokic wnt out all guns blazing opening a 6/4 5/3 lead. She couldn't elp feeling the pressure and eventually lost the second on a tiebreak. There were not many people, who would give a chance in the third, but Jelena somehow opened a 5/3 lead once again. The only difference - this time she wouldn't faulter. She closed out the match to the joy of the hometown crowd. This was probably the most important win o her career, which includes many many more wins over higher ranked player (like that when as a 15 year old qualifier she stunned the world No.1 Martina Hingis at Wimbledon destroying the Swiss 6/2 6/0 in the first round). This was such an important win, as was her win over last year's breakthrough star world No.12 Caroline Wozniacki in the next round. Dokic came from behind to post a three set win and secure a place in the fourth round.

The on court wins were very impressive, but what maybe is even more important for Dokic - she made peace with the Australian crowd as she excused herself for the mistakes she made in the past.

And although we may see the same blonde girl on court, who's fearsome groundstrokes, service and improved movement scary the crap out of most of the WTA Tour's top players, we see a completely new person at the same time. A Jelena Dokic, who made peace with herself and with the world. A girl, who had to come to terms with all the storms she faced in her 25 years. A young woman, who's finally ready to begin a new chapter in her life - happiness.


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