Jelena Dokic: The Comeback Kid

Alex StampCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2009

Forgive the romantic in me, but I love a comeback story. Often it is the comebacks in sport which make for the most exciting stories. Think Lance Armstrong, Liverpool in the Champions League final against AC Milan, or tennis' own Andre Agassi. It is the comebacks that can make the finest stories.


That is why when I saw Jelena Dokic playing today, I was willing her to win, because here was a true comeback story.


I first saw Dokic playing at Wimbledon, she knocked out Martina Hingis—world number one—in the first round, and I was incredibly impressed that day. I felt convinced that I was seeing a star of the future-doubtless many others shared my sentiments that day.


Initially these hopes seemed to be coming to fruition, Dokic rose rapidly, winning some singles tournaments and rising to number 4 in the world.


However, the much publicised problems with her father Damir, saw her split from him as coach, which led him to publicly criticise Dokic mercilessly.


At this point, Dokic was 19 and she struggled to cope with the negative publicity. Her confidence and form deserted her, she began to fall apart both on and off the court, and in 2004 withdrew from all tennis commitments for months, her fall was just as rapid as her rise.


For the best part of four years, precious little was seen or heard of Dokic, in matches she played in she appeared a shadow of her former self, battling through depression and personal problems, and it seemed that her career at the top was as good as over.


That is why it is brilliant to see Dokic back in the big time. No-one thought it possible, she was at 25 being written off, but as her performances this week have showed, the talent is still very much there.


Her performance against Chakvetadze showed she was still capable of pulling out some of the shots of her heyday, and she appeared to be the more confident and mentally stronger player, and achievement in itself against a seeded player.


At the end of the match her tears showed just what this meant to her, after years in the wilderness going through personal hell, here was a woman who was on her way back.


And maybe that's why we all love a good comeback story, because for someone like Dokic, after years of hellish trauma, it can offer her the one thing she perhaps craves most—redemption.