Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DUD: Down Under Dokic (And Why She's Done)

I'm so done with Jelena Dokic.

Living alone in Seattle has taught me one important lesson: be prepared. Be prepared for bad weather; be prepared when you leave the house for a 12-hour day; be prepared that things might not go the way you hoped they would; be prepared to miss that bus - and be okay with it.

While I respect - and often admire - the comeback athlete, Jelena Dokic's comeback has run its course time and time again. There's a time to say that enough is enough and hang up your string dampeners and grip tape. But it's not because I don't like Jelena, it's because she just hasn't been prepared.

In 2004, Dokic began suffering from a right elbow injury that would eventually contribute to her fall out of the top 100 in the rankings. Now, four years later, the 24-year-old has been knocked down yet again by injury - this time to her ankle - and finds herself in doubtful shape to qualify for the Australian Open.

The Dokic story has always been a little topsy-turvy, with a publicly high-tempered father and a tennis diva attitude to match. After her incredible breakthrough onto the tennis scene at Wimbledon in 1999, when she beat world no. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets on her way to the quarterfinals, Dokic became a regular inside the top 20, and even parked herself comfortable in the top 10 for much of 2002.

But injury and fatigue would get the best of Dokic, and she finished 2006 ranked outside the top 500 for the first time in her career, reduced to playing satellite and challenger tournaments just to make it.

Yet it wasn't because of a lack of talent in Dokic, that was something she always had. Rather, it was Dokic's lack of preparation that has gotten her in trouble. And now, in turn, her career has run its course because of it.

Repeated attempts back onto the WTA Tour over the last three years have been wildly unsuccessful for Jelena. Throughout these trials, Dokic has been said to be out of shape, emotionally unstable on court and constantly battling injury.

Whether or not Jelena has taken the necessary precautions to make a full-fledged return on the tour is something I'm not sure of. But the evidence leads to little preparation, and a more "Let's dive in head first" attitude than anything else.

So now, at 24, it's time for Jelena to take her goals elsewhere. Her tennis script has come to a close.

No comments: