Dokic goes down fighting
Even a woman with the fighting qualities of Jelena Dokic can not win every battle. The ultra-determined 25-year-old Australian has had plenty of victories on and off the court this Australian Open, but she could not add Tuesday night’s quarter-final against world No.3 Dinara Safina to the list.
Still, after injuring her ankle in her previous match, her trademark grit was again on show in her 6-4 4-6 6-4 defeat, as she fought back from losing the first set to push the big-hitting Russian all the way.
But while her fairytale Open campaign did not have the ultimate happy ending, Dokic can look back on the tournament with enormous satisfaction.
Her success on the court, unexpected even to herself, has lifted her ranking back inside the top 100, just two years after she was rated outside the world’s top 600 women.
With her most recent previous win at a grand slam tournament in 2003, her emergence from the tennis wilderness provides a platform for her to rise much further this year.
The financial reward is not to be sneezed at either, a $182,500 cheque coming her way as a losing quarter-finalist.
But even more significant is what Dokic has achieved off the court.
Having deserted Australia in acrimony in 2001, earning the ire of many after the years Tennis Australia put into developing her game, the born-again Australian has won warm appreciation from the nation.
Dokic’s underdog status and steely determination on the court have played a large part in that, as has Australia’s desperation to see a local succeed at Melbourne Park.
But the achievement that truly softened the hearts of many Australians was her brave decision to open up publicly about the years of depression she has had to overcome before ridding herself of the damaging influence of overbearing father Damir.
Dokic’s joy and surprise at her run through the tournament has welled into tears after several of her matches, allowing spectators both at Melbourne Park and via televisions around the country to share her emotional ride.
And there have been many willing to do so, each of Dokic’s matches attracting more than a million viewers, with her fourth round win over Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova drawing a huge audience of more than 1.7 million.
Dokic, handed a wildcard into the tournament, has also taken a giant step towards rebuilding the bridges with Tennis Australia that once seemed burnt, apologetically admitting she acted immaturely in past years and should never have left Australia.
The nation’s newest sporting heroine gets a chance to cement that relationship next week when she represents the nation in the Fed Cup.© AAP 2013
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