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The amazing return of Jelena Dokic

Busted Racquet

The man with the terrifying eyes had been lurking around the Wimbledon media area for a while, looking for trouble among the press corps that he despised so much.

Finally, his opportunity came when a television reporter approached him to ask about conducting an interview with his daughter.

Damir Dokic snatched the cell phone of Sky TV's Mark Saggers and, in an instant, smashed it on to the balcony to create a mangled mess of plastic and microchip.

It was the first Thursday of the 2000 Wimbledon championships and while the unpredictable behavior of tennis star Jelena Dokic's father was already notorious on the tour, this was the most dramatic and high profile eruption to date.

As Mr. Dokic was escorted from the All England Club he ranted to anyone who would listen that in England "only the Queen supports democracy, the rest of the country are fascists."

At that stage, given the impossibly hostile environment in which she was cocooned, it was easy to predict the demise of Jelena Dokic's career.

Sure enough, after reaching a career-high number four in the world in 2002, the fall from grace was brutally swift.

By 2005, at the age of 21, she was in virtual retirement and estranged from her family while trying to rebuild her personal life.

While the destruction of Dokic's tennis career was not surprising, the way it has been revitalized at this year's Australian Open has come as a huge shock.

After years in the tennis wilderness she sneaked into the tournament by narrowly winning the Australian wildcard playoff and has taken Aussie fans on a wild ride ever since.

A first-round victory against Tamira Paszek was her first win in the Grand Slam since 2003 and she followed it up by beating 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze and 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki.

Most impressive of all was a thrilling triumph over rising star Alisa Kleybanova, 8-6 in the third set, to set up her first ever quarter-final at the Australian Open.

The money and ranking points Dokic will pick up even if she loses to Dinara Safina on Monday will enable her to have another crack at reaching the top 20.

It is being done in the only way possible, without her father.

And while Dokic has sometimes been her own worst enemy, with thoughtless comments and irrational decisions, allowances have to be made due to the unhealthy impact her father wielded on her life.

Damir Dokic has reportedly claimed he will turn up at Melbourne Park if his daughter reaches the Australian Open final. While such a selfish act would be in character for such an odd and explosive man, hopefully for once he does the right thing, and allows Jelena a moment of personal glory untainted by his poisonous influence.

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