The Expected Unexpected Return of Jelena Dokic.

While browsing through You Tube, I came across some promotional videos for the upcoming “December Showdown” also known as the AO Wildcard Playoffs where Australian players battle each other for a coveted wildcard berth into their home Grand Slam.

One of the videos featured Jelena Dokic whose participation at the event was a surprise to me. And, in some ways, not at all.

In yet another comeback attempt for the former top five player, Dokic returned to this week’s AO playoffs after being out of action for almost two years due to a wrist injury. Now without a WTA ranking, Dokic appears poised to give tennis yet another try.

In many ways, the words “Dokic” and “comeback” go hand in hand as this feels like the umpteenth one in her very tumultuous career. Her most memorable one occurred in 2009 when, as a wildcard, she reached the quarterfinals of Melbourne thus posting her best result at a major in over seven years. Her triumph was such a popular one, especially down under in her adopted home country of Australia, that for several years one could buy a commemorative DVD of that summer called simply “The Jelena Dokic Story” from the tournament’s website.

Her comeback this time isn’t set to make it into any highlight reels just yet. Dokic drew in the first round of the playoffs another Aussie making her own comeback in Jarmila Gajdosova. Gajdosova won in straight sets while Dokic, in her post match comments, sounded just happy to be competing again.

“I thought it could have been worse,” summed up Dokic about the 6-2, 6-4 loss.

The pro game is filled with players who, after the end of their careers, have many wondering out loud “What if?”. For Dokic, who many feel could have achieved much more if she did not have to deal with an abusive father slash coach along with all of her injuries, returning to the tour after a lengthy absence is nothing new. While Dokic admits starting at zero, ranking wise, is not going to be easy, one has to give her kudos for going ahead.

“I have had a lot to deal with in my career but I am not done yet,” Dokic said after she withdrew from competing in Fed Cup for Australia in 2010. It’s a statement she will probably use, in some version, a few more times to come. Some tennis fans upon hearing the news of Dokic’s return said simply, “Why?”. But in a year that saw several incredible comebacks and performances from players once written off after suffering multiple injuries, perhaps the best response Dokic could give to that question would be, “Why not?”.


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