Dokic One Win From AO Wildcard
Published December 18, 2010 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - It's not often two former Top 10 players slug it out for a wildcard on the back courts, but that's what fans were treated to at Melbourne Park on Saturday. Having come through their respective group matches at the Australian Open Wildcard Play-offs, Alicia Molik and Jelena Dokic met in the semis, resuming a rivalry that goes back to junior days.
Dokic, who lit up her home Grand Slam with a quarterfinal run in 2009, emerged a 63 61 winner. Now, only Olivia Rogowska, her opponent in Sunday's final, can deny the 27-year-old former world No.4 a guaranteed berth at next month's big event. Melburnian Rogowska beat Sydneysider Sophie Ferguson in the other semi, 76(4) 64.
"We haven't played for many years now and we've always had a healthy rivalry," said Molik ahead of her match with Dokic, which marked the first time the two have met since 2003. "You go through so many emotions in your career and a lot of hurdles, but we've both been able to overcome a lot."
Recalled Dokic: "I played Alicia in juniors a couple of times and I think we played here (at Melbourne Park) at under-18s. We go back a long way so we know each other very well."
Former world No.8 Molik was, indeed, working as a commentator for Australia's Seven Network during Dokic's heroic run in Melbourne two years ago, memorably hugging her younger compatriot during an on-court interview.
But although Molik, who initially retired in 2008 but is now just over a year into her own comeback, was top seed on a ranking of No.130, the big-serving 29-year-old today struggled to match the precision of Dokic's groundstrokes.
"I'm happy I'm in the final, I knew it would be tough," said third-seeded Dokic, who is currently ranked No.137. "I didn't think the score reflected the match. But I played the big points very well. I saved a couple of break points early on and the set points I had I took all my chances straight away."
Before today, the Fed Cup squadmates had played each other on three occasions, with Molik beating Dokic twice (1-1 at WTA events). Earlier in the season, Molik reached the last 16 at Indian Wells and cracked the Top 100, but has struggled in the second half of the year. Dokic's latest bid to recharge her career was boosted by three ITF titles in a row during the summer. Molik owns five WTA titles, as does Dokic.
Live streaming of the AO Play-off final between Dokic and Rogowska begins at 11.00 am (AEDT) on Sunday, December 19. Visit Tennis Australia's website for details.