On the Baseline Tennis News
September 2, 2009
FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York—After being sidelined for two months, Jelena Dokic came to the US Open ready to prove to the world (and herself) that she was back and ready to win.
Unfortunately, her first round match didn’t go her way. Dokic’s illness, combined with the lack of play and training, took its toll. The 26-year-old Australian and former top-10 player lost to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-4.
“I didn’t feel great on court today,” said Dokic. “My power is not there. But hopefully that’s not a side effect of mono, and hopefully just a lack of practice.”
Dokic started the year off well, making it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. By the time she reached Miami, she had started feeling very fatigued. She played the French Open, only to retire from a back injury in the second round. Jelena missed the warm-up tournaments before Wimbledon as a result of her back injury.
Shortly after playing Wimbledon, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis. “It’s just so unlucky, says Dokic. “Some people just have it that way and get injured all the time, whereas some people get sick. I think it counts how many times you get up, not how many times you fall down, so hopefully I can try to do it one more time, and hopefully I won’t have to do it again.”
Looking back, Dokic realized that she had been playing with mono for quite a while, and didn’t even know she had it. The illness crept up slowly, until she just couldn’t play anymore. “It’s been a very tough couple of months,” said Dokic.
Too Much, Too Soon?
Once Dokic started feeling better, she became anxious to make her comeback on the WTA Tour as soon as possible. She even wanted to play the Bronx before the US Open, but she just hadn’t trained for it. Did she make the right choice to play the US Open, not knowing if she was ready? “It’s always hard to make that decision because it’s a Grand Slam,” says Dokic. When you’re directly into the main draw, you think that I’ll at least get a match, and I’ll practice. It’s hard to come out and play a Grand Slam straight away because everyone is so ready and there’s a lot at stake, and a lot of points.”
The Road to Recovery
Dokic expects to have a full recovery from her illness, but the question is when. “Mono is a hard thing,” says Dokic. “You have to go a couple of weeks at a time and see how you feel. But it’s tough to come out and play a competitive match. These girls have been playing week-in and week-out. I think I’m really behind as far as that goes. I have to just grind it out now, and hopefully I can still have a couple matches this year, and be healthy the whole next year.”
For now, Dokic’s goals are to stay positive, work hard, and play as many matches as physically possible. Starting next week, Dokic will be playing a few smaller events on clay.