Dokic safe and hopeful of playing top tennis again
November 24, 2006 7:53pm CST
Former world number four on the WTA tour Jelena Dokic believes she can work her way back into the top 30 after flatly denying recent suggestions from her father that she had been kidnapped. In an extensive interview with Belgrade daily Sportski Zurnal, Dokic said: "Of course I haven't been kidnapped, that's complete nonsense. I have been listening to such rubbish from my father for the last three years." She added: "I need to say this to protect my boyfriend, Tin Bikic, because he has never interfered either with my private life or my tennis. In no way has he affected my career." Dokic, 23, is currently ranked 583rd and looking for sponsors to finance her comeback after earning a total of $3,765,180 in career prize money. The Croatian-born Dokic moved with her family to Serbia in 1991 during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and then to Australia in 1994 before returning to Serbia in 2001. After falling out with her father Damir, who was also her coach, she moved to Zagreb and hired her boyfriend's brother Borna Bikic to coach her in 2003. The 23-year old parted company with Bikic after a failed attempt to reinvigorate her career, plagued by injuries and the long-term conflict with her father. She has since joined the Munich-based tennis academy of Croatia's Nikola Pilic and sees it as her last chance to make a comeback. "My only option is to stay with his academy. I am now in Zagreb looking for sponsors to finance my comeback attempt," Dokic said, dispelling reports she had decided to quit. "I will do everything in my power to go back to the top and I think there is a chance. I don't know if I can be the world number four again but I am still young and this is the best time to go for a comeback. "I feel I can still play top-level tennis and getting back into the top 30 would satisfy my ambitions. If (France's) Mary Pierce was able to come back at the age of 30, there is no reason for me not to try at 23." MONUMENTAL EFFORT She added: "I know it will take a monumental effort but my private problems, the bad situation with my parents and injuries have made me stronger, more mature and determined to succeed." Dokic won five singles titles after bursting onto the scene with a 6-2 6-0 demolition of top-seeded Martina Hingis in the Wimbledon 1999 first round as an unseeded qualifier. Her ordeals that started after she became world number four in August 2002 saw her plummet to 583 and Dokic believes she will be ready for Grand Slam tournaments in six months' time. "I need as many matches as I can get to rebuild my fitness, which is why I will start with small tournaments with up to $25,000 in prize money. I thought about taking part in the upcoming Australian Open but changed my mind." "I need up to six months to regain my fitness and stamina so my first priority is to keep working hard before I start playing again on January 15." Dokic left no room four doubt just how painful and devastating the rift with her family has been. "I don't speak to my father at all any more. I rarely talk to my mum too, over the phone. And we never discuss business or tennis."