Dokic Earns Main Draw Wildcard for Melbourne
Published December 21, 2008 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Jelena Dokic held off a determined challenge from 16-year-old Monika Wejnert to win in the final of the Australian Open Play-off at Melbourne Park on Sunday, securing a main draw wildcard into the 2009 Australian Open.
In a high-quality affair it was Wejnert who came out stronger in the beginning, winning the first set and breaking in the second set to lead, 76(3) 43. But Dokic broke back straight away, eventually taking that second set and reeling off the last four games of the match for a 67(3) 75 63 victory.
"Monika came in today with absolutely no pressure; she has played well all week and has beaten everybody, so the pressure was on me to beat her today," Dokic said. "I lost to her in the group, so I felt nervous out there; and the conditions were really difficult in the first two sets, so I'm happy to have come through. It was not an easy match nor was it a pretty match, but I did what I had to do."
Dokic has only played one Grand Slam main draw in the past four years, falling to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2006 Australian Open (a match in which she held two match points). Between 1999 and 2004 she played main draws at 21 of the 24 Grand Slam events, her best results being the semifinals of 2000 Wimbledon and quarterfinals at 1999 Wimbledon and 2002 Roland Garros.
"I don't have to worry about the Australian Open now. I came into here wanting to play qualifying but to be in the main draw gives me two tournaments before the Open to play, which is extra practice, which is good," Dokic added.
Having dipped out of the Top 300 by the end of 2005, out of the Top 600 by the end of 2006 and finishing 2007 unranked, Dokic ended 2008 at No.178 thanks to a strong season on the ITF Women's Circuit, where she won three singles titles.