MELBOURNE, Australia - Jelena Dokic and Anna Chakvetadze have had their share of struggles the last few years, dealing with injury, illness and some serious off-court problems. They're both back gracing the courts now, and on Tuesday the two former Top 5 stars met in the first round of the Australian Open, with former No.4 Dokic taking former No.5 Chakvetadze out, 62 61.
On a hot and windy day in Melbourne, Dokic was far and away the steadier of the two during the match, compiling a -1 winners-to-errors differential (12-13) while Chakvetadze struggled to a -19 differential (13-32). Chakvetadze never got to break point, while Dokic broke serve a total of four times in the match.
"It's a good win. It was difficult conditions out there. I did what I had to do," Dokic said after the match. "Sometimes it's not pretty in these conditions, but I did everything right today. Yeah, I think I played a solid match."
Both Dokic and Chakvetadze have been quarterfinalists at the Australian Open before, Chakvetadze in 2007 (losing to Maria Sharapova) and Dokic in 2009 (losing to Dinara Safina). Both are also former Grand Slam semifinalists, Dokic doing it at Wimbledon in 2000 and Chakvetadze at the US Open in 2007.
The only other time the two played was in the second round here three years ago, during Dokic's magical run to the quarterfinals of her home Slam. It was a much different result - Dokic ground out a 64 67(4) 63 victory.
"Anna has been a little bit sick and I don't think she has played much for six months, even though she had a pretty good week last week," Dokic said. "You can never count her out though. She's a competitor. She's difficult to play. But also, the conditions were really, really different to our last match."
Dokic was also asked about her targets for the 2012 season. "First of all I just want to be healthy," the 28-year-old commented. "I want to have a full year with no injuries. I think if I can do that, it will be a good year. So that's the most important thing at the moment. But if all goes well, hopefully Top 20."
Next up for Dokic is the same woman she lost to handily in the second round of Sydney last week, Marion Bartoli. The No.9-seeded Bartoli survived a tough first set then rolled over fellow Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, 75 60.
"Virginie played very well the first set. All credit to her," Bartoli said. "She has caused me some problems in the past. She has beaten me a lot of times and it was not easy. But obviously all the improvements I've done during the off-season and my physical training really showed up in the second set. I was fitter."
Bartoli's 60 63 win over Dokic in Sydney was their only previous meeting.
"I played pretty badly and wasn't able to control my nerves," Dokic said. "We've been working very hard on that, trying for that not to happen again."