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Dokic: The game hasn’t changed much


 

Originally published on: 17/02/12 10:42

Jelena Dokic was at the peak of her career in 2002, emerging as a bright young prospect at a time when the powerful styles of Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Serena and Venus Williams were bossing the tour.

Now ranked No.76 – having not surpassed the second round of a Grand Slam since her comeback quarter-final run at the 2009 Australian Open – the Monte Carlo resident disputes that there has been a noticeable change in the speed of the game and tells tennishead she has a good five years of competition left in her.

Has the women’s game changed much since you turned pro in 1998?
I don’t really think it has changed that much. The strings and the rackets have got a little bit faster, but I came through at a time when there were a lot of hard hitters – like Venus and Serena [Williams], [Lindsay] Davenport, [Monica] Seles, [Jennifer] Capriati, [Kim] Clijsters and [Justine] Henin. If you look at our [previous] No.1 [Caroline Wozniacki] today, she’s probably not the hardest hitter in the world. There are maybe one or two girls that hit the ball hard and flat, but I don’t think there’s been a noticeable change in the quickness of the game.

How has your game evolved?
As you get older you play differently. I don’t think you play the same way when you’re 15 as you do when you’re 25. You are learning a lot, technically and tactically, so with time you are bound to change. I have a lot more variety in my game than when I was 15.

Is your best tennis still to come?
Well, I’ve been No.4 in the world. I still think I have a lot of tennis left in me because I missed quite a few years. I don’t really feel I’m anywhere close to finishing my career, certainly not in my motivation, my drive and the amount of work that I do. I still see myself playing for at least another five years. I think athletes in general have pushed the boundaries a little bit. It’s not normal to stop playing or competing at 25 any more, now it’s closer to 35. Players are still playing great tennis between the ages of 28-33 and I don’t think age matters as much any more. You can do so much with fitness, with physical preparation and the amount of work you do to make up for it.

How much pressure are you under when you compete in Australia?
Of course there can be pressure because the fans want you to win and they expect a lot from you, but I don’t think it should be looked at that way. I think you try to use the crowd and the fact that you are at home – you feel so good there. I’ve had some tough situations playing at home when I’ve lost and it’s been very disappointing for me. It’s not come from the public or anything else – it’s just me putting pressure on myself and wanting to do well. I’ve had some great matches, great tournaments at home so I love to play there.

How do you spend your time away from the court?
I try to do more things; go to the beach and see places I don’t usually get to see. We don’t actually see the cities when we’re playing in them and I like to go out and see the culture and see the sights in certain cities.

Jelena Dokic was speaking with tennishead magazine and features in the January issue – Volume 2, Issue 6. For more info on how to subscribe to the magazine click here.

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