Jelena Dokic won her first tournament in nearly nine years on Sunday, defeating Lucie Safrova in three sets to take the Malaysian Open title. Today, Game Point looks at the rise and fall of the 27-year-old Australian.
Love -- Dokic burst onto the tennis scene in 1999 when she upset defending champion Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon. Her ranking of No. 129 made her the lowest-ranked player to ever defeat a top seed at a Slam. One year later, Dokic made a surprise run to the semifinals at the All England Club and made it to the medal round at the Sydney Olympics before falling in the bronze medal match to Monica Seles.
15 -- Of all the notorious tennis parents throughout recent history, Dokic's father, Damir, was arguably the worst. He built a reputation during Dokic's successful junior career as a bullying presence in her coaching box and soon became well-known for his outbursts at tournaments. One time he called tennis club officials "Nazis." Another time he smashed a journalist's cell phone. He was ejected from the 2001 US Open because he flipped out over a $21 piece of salmon. Dokic, a Serbian by birth, eventually convinced his daughter to play for his home country after he became indignant over a bad draw at the Australian Open.
30 -- Jelena rose to No. 4 in the rankings even with all the off-court distractions, but in 2003 she cut ties with her father and began a precipitous drop in the rankings. By the end of 2004 she was out of the top 100. Two years later, she ended the year at No. 621. She later admitted she was battling depression, the result of her ongoing family and financial crisis (her father was said to have been in control of most of her money). Dokic played in just one Grand Slam from 2005 to 2008 and reportedly was sleeping on the floor of a Melbourne apartment during the 2009 Australian Open. In that tournament, she made a surprise run to the quarterfinals after earning a wild card.
40 -- The success was short-lived. Dokic's ranking rose throughout 2009 but injuries and a first-round loss at the '10 Aussie Open dropped her out of the top 100 again. Despite playing well on the ITF circuit, Dokic couldn't get out of qualifiers for Wimbledon or the US Open. Her loss to Olivia Rogowska in the finals of a wild card playoff for this year's Australian Open was her newest rock bottom. During her earlier troubles, there was the sense that Dokic would eventually come back. Talent is talent, after all. The loss to Rogowska in December had a different vibe. Dokic was 27, ranked No. 130 in the world and had won a match at a Grand Slam only twice since 2003.
Love -- Heading into Malaysia, Dokic was 3-5 in WTA events for the year. Her ranking stood at No. 91 and she drew world No. 5 Francseca Schiavone in the first round. It appeared like it would be more of the same for the Aussie after she dropped the first 6-2. But then she came back to defeat Schiavone, won her next four matches and faced off against Safrova in her first final in since 2003. Dokic saved two match points in an epic 20-point second-set tiebreak before going on to win the final set, 6-4. Comeback 2.0 has begun.