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  #161  
Старый 25th November 2005, 01:21
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WTA планирует ввести в помощь судьям электронную систему Со следующего года WTA планирует ввести электронную систему в помощь судьям на вышке, передает РИА "Новости". Эта система создана для того, чтобы качественнее определять точность ударов. Как сообщает ВВС, две системы - "Соколиный глаз" и "Автосудья" - уже прошли испытания, однако WTA планирует использовать только одну из них.
"Мы проверили две системы, и их точность составляет около 90 процентов. Этот показатель лучше, чем результаты судьи-человека", - заявил представитель WTA Ларри Скотт, отметив при этом, что окончательные сроки установки этой системы пока неизвестны. Вместе с тем, предполагается, что первым турниром серии "Большого шлема", на котором будет опробована система, станет US Open-2006.
"Мы хотим быть уверены на сто процентов, что эта система будет работать надежно", - добавил Скотт.

Ну и это, Иванишевич еще за хорватов в финале Кубка Девиса обещался в паре сыграть.
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  #162  
Старый 29th November 2005, 23:17
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Мартина Хингис возвращается.

Five-time major champion Martina Hingis will return to tennis in 2006 after retiring three years ago with a foot injury, her management announced.

Hingis, 25, a former world No. 1, quit the game in October 2002 with her injury, returning only for one match last January in Pattaya, where she lost in the first round of a lower-level WTA event to German Marlene Weingartner.

While offering few specifics, Hingis' Octagon management in Washington said the player had decided to resume in the sport at the top level

"I was never happy that my injuries cut my career short and ultimately forced my decision to step away from tennis," said Hingis. "I have enjoyed my time
away from the court, a period that has allowed me to experience a different side of life.

"However, I miss the game and the challenge of competing at the highest level of tennis, and I want to gauge whether I can stay healthy and compete
against today’s top players."

The Swiss won 76 singles and doubles titles including 14 major titles (including five in singles from 1997-1999)

She was the youngest player to ever rank number 1 ((16 years, 6 months) and one of only five women players to have been ranked atop singles and doubles at the same time.

The Swiss, who devoted herself to competitive show jumping after her early retirement, ranks third ($18.3 million) on the all-time on the career prize money list, behind Steffi Graf ($21.8 million) and Navratilova. ($21.1 million).

Hingis has undergone several surgeries on her foot.

During her career, Hingis won at least one singles and doubles title and earned at least $1 million in prize money each year for seven straight years.

In addition, she reached the semi-finals or better in 104 of the 118 events she played between the 1996 U.S. Open and 2002 Indian Wells.

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  #163  
Старый 29th November 2005, 23:20
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Molik, McNamee support return Jelena Dokic

ALICIA Molik and Paul McNamee have welcomed Jelena Dokic's return to Australia.

Molik, recovering from inner ear virus vestibular neuronitis, said Dokic would star again once restored to the Australian fold.
"I think it's in Jelena's best interests to move back to Australia," Molik said.

"She's spoken about it a lot. I actually bumped into Jelena a number of months ago. We were crossing paths. We had a very good chat at Dubai Airport.

"I think she played some of her best tennis when she played for Australia and I think Australia is a country where it's very easy to make friends. Australians are very good at embracing and especially successful people."

Australian Open chief executive officer McNamee is equally positive about Dokic's relocation.

"We've always been hoping this would happen," he said.

"The door was always left open for Jelena and I nearly fell off my chair three months ago when the phone rang and it was Jelena saying she wanted to come back.

"There's a real sense of relief. It's been a long time, five years."

McNamee confirmed Dokic would compete for a wildcard at the Australian Open training camp playoffs at Melbourne Park next month.

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  #164  
Старый 29th November 2005, 23:24
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Dokic pledges future to Australia



LONDON, England (AP) -- Jelena Dokic wants to play in the Fed Cup for Australia again and revive a tennis career that stalled after she split with her controversial father.

The 22-year-old, whose ranking has slipped to No. 349 after peaking at No. 4 in 2002, will leave for Melbourne on Friday to train for a wild card playoff into the Australian Open.

Damir Dokic, who was his daughter's mentor and coach until 2003, claimed the draw for the 2001 Australian Open was rigged and took her to live in Serbia-Montenegro.

"I am an Australian, I feel like an Australian and I want to play for Australia again," Dokic told The Times in an interview published Tuesday.

"What happened before, I had no control over, the decisions weren't made by me. I wanted to go back before, but I was a little afraid of what reception I'd receive."

As a 16-year-old qualifier at Wimbledon in 1999, Dokic beat then-No. 1 Martina Hingis 6-2 6-0 in the first round.

She reached the semifinals at the same tournament the next year, and the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2002 to reach her highest world ranking.

Damir and Jelena Dokic split in 2003 when he called for her to undergo psychiatric and drug testing after she started dating Brazilian racing driver Enrique Benoldi.

Despite a brief reconciliation, they remain estranged.

"My father and I have completely different ideas, we aren't on the same wavelength," Dokic told The Times.

"I am not able to live with him or to work with him. When you are in that situation, you can survive for a certain period of time but then it has to end."

Dokic, who has not played much in the past 18 months, will take part in a Tennis Australia camp next month.

She will then play in WTA tour events in Auckland, New Zealand, and Canberra, Australia.

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  #165  
Старый 29th November 2005, 23:28
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Сричафан на 7 дней стал монахом

Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan, Asia's top-ranked tennis player, on Saturday swapped his racket for an alms bowl as he started a seven-day period as a Buddhist monk, local newspapers reported.

"I will spend the next seven days as a monk, especially meditating, which is something I can make use of when I return to tennis," Paradorn was quoted saying by The Nation newspaper.

Paradorn has adopted the Buddhist name "Mahaviro" which means "great and brave" for his stint as a monk. In a traditional preordination ceremony on Friday, Paradorn had his head shaved prior to donning the monk's saffron-colored robes. He will serve in a temple outside the Thai capital Bangkok.

It is customary for Thai men to serve in the monkhood for at least one period in their lives as a way of showing their religious devotion.

Paradorn, currently ranked No. 43 in the world, has been struggling on the court recently. He's been in two finals but still hasn't won a title this year.

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  #166  
Старый 30th November 2005, 11:24
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Мартина Хингис возвращается.

Five-time major champion Martina Hingis will return to tennis in 2006 after retiring three years ago with a foot injury, her management announced.

Hingis, 25, a former world No. 1, quit the game in October 2002 with her injury, returning only for one match last January in Pattaya, where she lost in the first round of a lower-level WTA event to German Marlene Weingartner.

While offering few specifics, Hingis' Octagon management in Washington said the player had decided to resume in the sport at the top level

"I was never happy that my injuries cut my career short and ultimately forced my decision to step away from tennis," said Hingis. "I have enjoyed my time
away from the court, a period that has allowed me to experience a different side of life.

"However, I miss the game and the challenge of competing at the highest level of tennis, and I want to gauge whether I can stay healthy and compete
against today’s top players."

The Swiss won 76 singles and doubles titles including 14 major titles (including five in singles from 1997-1999)

She was the youngest player to ever rank number 1 ((16 years, 6 months) and one of only five women players to have been ranked atop singles and doubles at the same time.

The Swiss, who devoted herself to competitive show jumping after her early retirement, ranks third ($18.3 million) on the all-time on the career prize money list, behind Steffi Graf ($21.8 million) and Navratilova. ($21.1 million).

Hingis has undergone several surgeries on her foot.

During her career, Hingis won at least one singles and doubles title and earned at least $1 million in prize money each year for seven straight years.

In addition, she reached the semi-finals or better in 104 of the 118 events she played between the 1996 U.S. Open and 2002 Indian Wells.

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Лучшая теннисистка второй половины 90-х годов прошлого века, бывшая первая ракетка мира Мартина Хингис собирается в следующем сезоне вернуться на корт и участвовать в турнирах серии WTA Tour, сообщает РИА "Новости" со ссылкой на швейцарский телеканал TSR.

Пятикратная победительница турниров Большого шлема, 25-летняя Хингис уже пыталась вернуться на корт, но неудачно. В феврале этого года она вылетела после первого же круга турнира в Паттайе, проиграв немке Марлене Вайнгартнер со счетом 1:6, 6:2, 6:2.

Швейцарка завершила спортивную карьеру в 2002 году из-за различных травм, перенеся операции на обеих лодыжках.

За свою карьеру Хингис выиграла 40 турниров, заработав на корте $18,3 миллиона, не считая рекламных контрактов. Швейцарка также стала самой молодой теннисисткой, возглавив рейтинг Женской теннисной ассоциации (WTA) в 16 лет три месяца и один день.
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  #167  
Старый 30th November 2005, 14:13
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PREVIEW - Ljubicic the key to Davis Cup final outcome

BRATISLAVA, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Slovakia can only hope Ivan Ljubicic has finally run out of steam when their historic Davis Cup final against Croatia begins in Bratislava on Friday.

The formidable Ljubicic has taken the small Balkan country to their first final almost single-handed with an unblemished record in this year's competition.

Three more victories this weekend would take his tally to 12 out of 12, matching the feat of Davis Cup great John McEnroe in 1982, and hoist him up alongside Goran Ivanisevic in the affections of Croatia's public.

Ivanisevic, the former Wimbledon champion and Olympic bronze medallist, has been included in Croatia's four-man team by captain Niki Pilic, offering him the chance of an emotional sign-off to a remarkable career.

The 34-year-old's inspirational qualities are more likely to be used as a courtside cheerleader, although he insists he is ready to play if called upon.

In reality, Croatia's hopes rest squarely on the broad shoulders of Ljubicic, whose form since the U.S. Open has been nothing short of sensational.

Consecutive titles in Metz and Vienna were followed by runs to the finals at the Madrid and Paris Masters. A berth at the Masters Cup in Shanghai meant he finished a gruelling year in the top 10 for the first time.

"He is a national hero, they should call it the Ljubicic Cup not the Davis Cup," said Ivanisevic, who last featured in a Davis Cup tie in 2003 and now plays on the Seniors Tour.

Ljubicic, who launched Croatia on the road to the final with stunning wins over Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi in the first round in Los Angeles, is playing down his heroics, at least until the mission is accomplished.

"They were great wins but if we lose in the final it's going to be easy to forget them," said the 28-year-old, who fled war-torn Bosnia as a teenager to pursue his tennis career.

"I'm not thinking about (McEnroe's) record. I just want to win the Davis Cup even if Mario (Ancic) wins both singles and I lose both and we win the doubles.


HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY

"I think we deserve it, we have better players, but we have to go there. It's an historic opportunity for us, although I'm not saying it's the only chance we're going to have."

With the 21-year-old Ancic struggling of late, the pressure will be on Ljubicic to spearhead Croatia's challenge in the Sibamac Arena on the banks of the Danube.

Slovakia's experienced former world number six Karol Kucera believes it will be a tough ask.

"It's hard to maintain this level," said Kucera, who could play a part in Saturday's doubles. "A player is at his best for maybe one month or so out of the year.

"He's succeeded in everything he's touched but I just hope his best performances are behind him."

Slovakia, unseeded in the world group like Croatia, stunned holders Spain in the first round and Argentina in the semi-finals. They have enjoyed unbroken home advantage and captain Miloslav Mecir will stick to his winning formula.

Dominik Hrbaty and Karol Beck will shoulder the singles load with Beck, provided a nagging knee injury does not flare up, expected to partner Michal Mertinak in the doubles.

The 27-year-old Hrbaty, ranked 19th in the world, has not won a title this year, although his form in the Davis Cup has been impressive, with just one defeat in five singles rubbers.

He also won a Challenger title in Bratislava earlier this month, and Kucera believes Hrbaty can lead his country to glory despite a 0-5 career record against Ljubicic.

"I believe Dominik, in front of the home fans, will push himself to great heights," said Kucera, who is expected to announce his retirement after the final.

Mecir knows his side will start as underdogs, although he believes rankings will have little bearing on the final outcome.

"Of course, the support is much stronger and I hope that people will push our players to their best form," said the 1986 U.S. Open runner-up.

"All the players are preparing very responsibly and I would say that their shape and form is definitely rising."

Whoever wins will become the 12th nation to have their name engraved on the famous old trophy, the fifth different winner in five years and the first unseeded team to take the title.

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  #168  
Старый 30th November 2005, 20:44
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Exclamation Уэйн Блэк уходит

ХАРАРЕ. Один из сильнейших парных игроков мира, зимбабвиец Уэйн Блэк, объявил об окончании своей профессиональной карьеры.

32-летний теннисист, выигравший за 12 лет выступлений в АТР 18 титулов в парном разряде (в том числе на US Ореn-2001 и Australian Open-2005 со своим соотечественником Кевином Улльеттом), женат на бывшей профи из Казахстана Ирине Селютиной, которая в январе ждет их первого ребенка, сообщает пресс-служба ITF.

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  #169  
Старый 30th November 2005, 20:47
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Arrow А Коста пока остается

Испанец Альберт Коста сегодня сообщил о том, что не собирается в ближайшее время завершать выступления. "Я еще чувствую себя неплохим игроком и надеюсь поучаствовать в турнирах в следующем году", - заявил он.

Около месяца назад 30-летний спортсмен объявил о намерении покинуть большой спорт. Обладатель Кубка Дэвиса и экс-чемпион Roland Garros тогда заявил, что закончит карьеру не сразу, а "в зависимости от того, как пойдут дела".

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Раньше он не мог сделать выбор, потому что не знал, что будет. Теперь он знает что будет, и потому не может сделать выбор.
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  #170  
Старый 30th November 2005, 21:22
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На победу Хингис в Уимблдоне WH уже линию дал - пока по 41.00
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  #171  
Старый 5th December 2005, 11:06
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Мартина Хингис больше всего хочет сыграть с Марией Шараповой

Некогда первая ракетка мира швейцарка Мартина Хингис, решившая после трехлетнего перерыва вернуться в большой спорт, готова бросить вызов лучшим теннисисткам современности.

"Когда ты являешься первой ракеткой мира на протяжении четырех лет, рано или поздно вновь захочется соревноваться с лучшими конкурентками и выигрывать турниры серии Большого Шлема", - заявила Хингис в интервью reuters.

Вместе с тем, 25-летняя швейцарка добавила, что не испытывает особых иллюзий по поводу своего возвращения в большой теннис: "Сейчас я не хочу говорить о каких-то целях. Я трезво смотрю на вещи, и мне не хочется жить в своих мечтах", - отметила она.

По признанию самой теннисистки, ей часто задают вопрос, против кого больше всего она хотела бы сыграть.

"Когда люди спрашивают меня об этом, я всегда отвечаю: "С Марией Шараповой". Во-первых, она единственная теннисистка из первой десятки, с которой мне не доводилось играть. Во-вторых, она выиграла Уимблдонский турнир и уже была первой ракеткой мира", - пояснила Хингис.

Напомним, что Хингис в свое время была очень дружна с россиянкой Анной Курниковой, в паре с которой она выиграла 11 турниров, включая две победы на Открытом чемпионате Австралии в 1999 и 2002 годах.

По ее словам, "когда я смотрю на Линдсэй Дэвенпорт, Амели Моресмо, Ким Клейстерс и Жюстин Энен-Арденн, которые до сих пор находятся на вершине рейтинга, я понимаю, что у меня хорошие шансы заиграть вновь".

Мартина Хингис ушла из профессионального тенниса в 2002 году из-за хронической травмы ноги.

В период с 1994 по 2002 годы Мартина Хингис выиграла в общей сложности 40 титулов в одиночном разряде, из которых пять - на турнирах серии Большого Шлема, передает РИА "Новости".
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  #172  
Старый 10th December 2005, 16:10
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Dokic wants a fresh start

HAVING severed ties with her domineering father, Jelena Dokic will use the comeback of Mary Pierce as the template for a planned return to the top of world tennis.

The former Wimbledon semi-finalist has been inspired in the past year by Pierce, also the victim of a controlling father, and said yesterday she hoped her damaged relationship with the Australian public following her bitter departure almost five years ago could be repaired.

Returning to Melbourne Park, home of next month's Australian Open, for the first time since leaving with her family to return to their native Serbia in 2001, Dokic said Pierce helped give her the courage to return to the country she calls home.

"I can play so much more relaxed now and enjoy it so much more," said Dokic, who was 17 when she turned her back on Australia. Her father Damir made her play under the old Yugoslavia flag at the 2001 Australian Open after he accused officials of rigging the draw when his daughter was drawn to play Lindsay Davenport in the first round.

"I've already proved that I can play well. I've had good results so now I can just enjoy my tennis, enjoy every shot I play. Mary Pierce has been a very big inspiration in the last year because she's done exactly that in a similar situation to me."

Dokic reached a career high singles ranking of four in 2002 but then her career went into freefall and she now sits at no.349.

Pierce's world ranking slipped to 130 in 2001 but she managed a great comeback to reach the French and US Open finals this year and finished the season at no.5 at the age of 30.

At one stage in her career, Pierce took out a restraining order against her father and former coach, Jim.

Dokic, now 22, recently rang Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee and asked about returning with a view to playing the first grand slam event of 2006.

She will join a training camp and play a mini tournament in a fortnight for the right to a wildcard entry at the Australian Open.

Even if she fails to win the tournament, she is almost certain to be granted a wildcard.

"I wanted to come back two years ago but I was a little bit afraid of the reaction of the people and the players and everything. But so far everyone that I've had to deal with and speak to has been really supportive," Dokic said. "It was not my decision at the time (to leave Australia) and I want people to understand that."

Dokic became a darling of the Australian tennis public in 1999 when she qualified for Wimbledon and beat world no.1 Martina Hingis in the opening round en route to making it to the quarter-finals.

A year later she made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and looked destined to reach no.1 but the strain of having to play tennis and deal with the antics of an troublesome father started to show.

In addition to saying the Australian Open draw was rigged, Damir Dokic called tournament officials in England Nazis and smashed a journalist's mobile phone. It led to him being banned from Women's Tennis Association events for much of 2000 and 2001.

Dokic admitted yesterday the strain of her teenage years was responsible for her career going into freefall. "I was young at the time and all the pressure I had on me I dealt with at the time and later it took its toll," she said.

"I did so much early on, so maybe I needed that break (last two years). I'm really motivated again."

McNamee is confident the Australian public will welcome Dokic back but stressed not too much should be expected from her too soon.

"In terms of tennis it's a pretty long haul she's got," McNamee said.

"But she seems to have the eye in, the fire in the belly and the eye of the tiger but it's a very long way back.

"It's regrettable what sometimes happens between a daughter and her dad and let's hope for Jelena's sake she can make her start here."

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  #173  
Старый 14th December 2005, 15:01
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Моника Селеш может вернуться в профессиональный теннис

Бывшая первая ракетка мира Моника Селеш не исключает своего возвращения в профессиональный теннис. 32-летняя Селеш, выигравшая за свою карьеру девять турниров серии "Большого шлема", не играла с июня 2003 года из-за травмы ноги.

"Сейчас я нахожусь на стадии принятия решения, - цитирует Монику ВВС - Сделать это будет нелегко, потому что если возвращаться, то только на самый высокий уровень".

В настоящее время теннисистка тренируется пять дней в неделю в своем доме во Флориде, поддерживая спортивную форму.

Напомним, что недавно о своем возвращении после трехлетнего перерыва заявила другая бывшая первая ракетка мира – швейцарка Мартина Хингис, которая была вынуждена досрочно завершить свою блестящую карьеру из-за травм.

Селеш призналась, что будет пристально следить за тем, как будет складываться возвращение Хингис. "Здорово, что Мартина возвращается. Она так молода, у нее впереди высокие цели", - заявила Моника.
__________________
И ДА ПРЕБУДЕТ С НАМИ СИЛА !!!
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  #174  
Старый 14th December 2005, 15:13
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Курникова вернется в профессиональный теннис?



Российская теннисистка, вот уже несколько лет не выступавшая в ВТА-туре, Анна Курникова сыграла на выставочном турнире в Рио-де-Жанейро с экс-первой ракеткой мира Мартиной Хингис, объявившей о возвращении в большой спорт. С 2003 года Анна лишь изредка появляется на выставочных турнирах.

Матч на пляжах Копакабаны, являющийся украшением мужского турнира, выиграла Хингис. В первом сете она одержала победу со счетом 6:1, при счете 5:1 Анна Курникова взяла медицинский тайм-аут, так как у нее заболела правая рука. После первого сета матч закончился.

Перед игрой Анна Курникова сообщила, что не собирается в ближайшее время возвращаться на корт, но добавила, что «эту вероятность исключать полностью не стоит», - сообщает АП. Хингис, которая получила «уайлд-кард» от организаторов Открытого чемпионата Австралии, сказала: «Я жду Australian Open и готовлюсь к нему. Матч против Анны будет для меня хорошим тестом».

Победу на турнире одержал бразилец Густаво Куэртен. В финальном матче экс-первая ракетка мира обыграл аргентинца Мариано Пуэрту. В турнире принимали участие немец Николас Кифер и американец Робби Джинепри.

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  #175  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:00
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British player Mark Hilton (ATP239) has announced his retirement from the tour. He states that while he was successful in the UK challenger and futures tournaments, he never really felt as if he played that well outside of the country. He regards this latter fact for him not achieving his goal of reaching the top 100, and will now coach top juniors for the LTA.
Other British players to have retired recently include Andrew Banks and Amanda Janes (Daughter of Wimbledon winner Christine Truman).
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  #176  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:15
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Dokic wins first match back

JELENA Dokic today celebrated her first match in Australia in four years with a straight-sets win in the Australian Open wildcard play-off at Melbourne Park.

The former world No.4 overpowered Victorian Beti Sekulovski 6-2 7-6 to move through to the second round.

Dokic, more relaxed and slowly regaining fitness, showed considerable glimpses of her skills, but her determination to earn her way into the draw was most evident.

Occasionally let down by double faults and loose shots, the 22-year-old nevertheless held firm in the second set tiebreaker after the pair had traded service breaks.

Working again with former Fed Cup captain Lesley Bowrey, who was courtside today, Dokic said she needed to work hard to regain form but was feeling much more comfortable after just 10 days back in Australia.

"I was a little bit nervous, I haven't played matches in a really long time (her last tournament was in Italy in August)," Dokic said.

"There are some things I need to improve on but I expected not to play so well in the first match.

"I feel good, I think match play will help.

"I think I got a little bit defensive. I get nervous which is normal, but that comes down to match play," she said.

"I'm not used to that - I used to play 70 or 80 matches a year so I think that will just take some time.

"I've lost my feel for playing matches and for being at tournaments but I expect to improve with each match."

Dokic said she now felt more relaxed after easing her way back into Australian tennis.

"It's much better now than the first day - I was a little bit lost the first day and I didn't know anybody.

"A lot of people have tried to help me to fit in and it's a much better feel now and we all get along a little bit better," she said.

"I don't expect everybody to be on my side but it's been great so far."

Dokic said she appreciated the chance to work again with Bowrey, who has steadfastly been one of her strongest supporters.

"We haven't had much work yet but it's better, I think, someone who can help me and she knows me quite well - and she knows how I get in matches and what I need to work on," Dokic said.

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  #177  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:17
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Reid out to bury demons

TODD Reid, the forgotten man of Australian tennis, will today take another important step in a long-awaited renaissance.

The 2002 Wimbledon junior singles champion will contest the Australian Open training camp wildcard playoff at Melbourne Park.

Eager to bury the demons of the past 18 months, Reid will face Alun Jones in quest of an Open main draw wildcard.

"It's been tough," Reid, 21, said of the illness and injury problems which have blighted once impressive progress.

"All I want to do now is to get fit and stay healthy.

"I haven't been able to play a lot of tennis since the start of last year, it's great to be back playing again."

Ranked 104th in September last year, Reid has slipped to 386th after succumbing to glandular fever and ankle injuries.

"Hopefully I can get back near the top 100, that's my goal," he said.

"I'm only 21 and I know I've got a few good years left."

Reid said he had been tormented by negative thoughts - "they do get into your mind" - but has emerged with a positive mindset.
Reid has been working in Sydney with world No.4 Lleyton Hewitt, Peter Luczak, Davis Cup coach Wally Masur and Hewitt's coach Roger Rasheed.

He was unable to win a match at ATP or grand slam level in 2005, dropping to the Challenger circuit in search of form and confidence.

Meanwhile, Jelena Dokic will play her first competitive event in Melbourne since the 2001 Australian Open, where she switched to Serbia and Montenegro.

The baseliner is determined to rebuild her career as an Australia and today faces 344th-ranked Beti Sekulovski.

Desperate to regain form and fitness, Dokic has toiled slavishly over the past nine days.

Tennis Australia chief executive officer Steve Wood was stunned last weekend when he went to Melbourne Park to hit on the newly-laid claycourt.

Dokic was there, drilling.

"It was a day for players at the Australian Open training camp, but Jelena was out there going flat out," Wood said.

"That shows how keen she is to prepare herself and to do her best to get back to where she belongs."

The former world No.4 is among a string of hopefuls bidding for a prized wildcard from today.

The play-offs begin from 10am and continue tomorrow and Sunday from 11am before the finals on Monday, which begin at 10am.

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  #178  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:21
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Dokic moves into qualifying semis

Jelena Dokic moves another step closer towards earning a wildcard into next month's Australian Open.

Dokic defeated Queenslander Shayna McDowell 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 at Melbourne Park today to move into the semi-finals of the play-off tournament.

It is only her second match in Australia in four years after arriving back in the country two weeks ago.

Dokic yesterday beat Victorian Beti Sekulovski, also in straight sets, in her first round match.

She now plays 28-year-old Newcastle left-hander Trudi Musgrave for a place in Monday's finals.

Even if Dokic loses in the play-off event, she is virtually assured of gaining a wildcard into the Australian Open main draw.

Dokic has this week resumed working with former coach Lesley Bowrey, a former Australian Red Cup captain.

Bowrey said she had agreed to work with Dokic as coach over the Australian summer period and may even travel with her as part-time mentor.

"I'm planning to work with her during the Australian season and we're just taking it one step at a time and seeing how it goes," Bowrey said.

Bowrey has been on hand at her games and has been impressed with her form after not playing a match since August.

"It's all very well hitting the ball and things like that ... she's hitting the ball very well and she just needs to find a few more subtleties in her game that she had before and that will give her a lot of confidence," she said.

Bowrey remains confident that the former World No.4 can climb back into the top 10 with work.

"It's going to take a little time, but definitely yes, she's a great player and she's got a great determination so she can get back to where she was before," she said.

"She needs to work at a few things but if she has the right influences around her there's no reason why she can't get back."

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  #179  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:24
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Dokic denied Fed Cup shot

JELENA Dokic is ineligible to play in the Federation Cup next year.

She can pledge her renewed allegiance to Australia all she likes, she can seek and receive forgiveness from the powerbrokers in this country, she can get a wildcard into the Australian Open and win it for all it matters.

But however much she wants to be involved, International Tennis Federation rules demand her omission from the squad which contests the Asia/Oceania zone group qualifying tournament in Korea in April.

Regulations state a player can only take part if she "is a national of that country, has a current valid passport of that country and has lived there in that country for 24 consecutive months at some time, and has not represented any other country during the period of 36 months immediately preceding the event."

Dokic represented Serbia and Montenegro in April last year. Her first proposed appearance for Australia would have come during the 36-month waiting period.

The only hope for the woman who left Australia in a huff in 2001 is for Tennis Australia to seek dispensation from the ITF at least six months before her mooted appearance.

Of course, Dokic had yet to announce her return when the deadline passed in November.

"It doesn't look as if it's in the pipeline for this year," a spokesman for Tennis Australia said.

An in-form Dokic would be an invaluable addition next year to an Australian team missing the recuperating Alicia Molik.

World No.46 Samantha Stosur is the only player available who is ranked in the top 100.

Dokic has an 11-3 win-loss record in the Fed Cup but has not represented her adopted country since defeating Anna Kournikova in Russia in 2000.

The 22-year-old moved a step closer to earning a wildcard into next month's Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 victory over Queenslander Shayna McDowell at Melbourne Park yesterday to move into the semi-finals of the play-off tournament.

It is only her second match in Australia in four years having arrived back in the country just two weeks ago. The baseliner will now play Newcastle left-hander Trudi Musgrave today for a place in Monday's final.

Earlier this week Dokic resumed working with her former coach and former Fed Cup captain Lesley Bowrey.

Bowrey said she had agreed to take on the role over the Australian summer period and may even travel with Dokic as a part-time mentor.

"I'm planning to work with Jelena during the Australian season and we're just taking it one step at a time and seeing how it goes," she said.

The former French and Australian Open finalist has been at Dokic's games and is impressed with what she has seen.

"Jelena is hitting the ball very well and just needs to find the subtleties in her game that she had before and that will give her a lot of confidence," she said.

Bowrey believes the former world No.4 can climb back into the top 10 with some hard work.

"It's going to take a little time, but definitely yes, she's a great player and she's got a great determination so she can get back to where she was before," she said.

"She needs to work at a few things but if she has the right influences around her there's no reason why she can't get back."

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  #180  
Старый 18th December 2005, 13:28
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The Big Interview: Monica Seles

Welcome to New York, ma’am. The only place in the world where Christmas is done properly.” It’s holiday season, and there’s not a doorman in this glittering city who is willing to let you pass by without a quick reminder. The place sparkles and shines with the fun and finance of it all — from the glistening snow on crowded streets to the sumptuous array of lights flickering atop buildings and threaded through every tree. Fur coats and designer handbags, sunglasses and diamonds the size of tennis balls.
Among the shoppers out on this crisp morning is Monica Seles, the 32-year-old who, half a lifetime ago, was the greatest female tennis player on the planet.

“Christmas,” she sighs. “I never really did Christmas before. Christmas Day? I mean — what’s that? What’s it all about? I was always flying on Christmas Day. Did you know that Christmas Day is absolutely the best day to fly? It is. No crowded airports and crowded planes. I always flew to Australia. That’s what Christmas was for me — a plane journey to the next tournament.”

She won’t be on a plane this year, and she wasn’t last year. A combination of injuries, loss of form and the simple matter of being stabbed between the shoulder blades by a maniac clutching a steak knife conspired to edge her out of the game she has loved and practised since she was a toddler.

“I guess you could say that mine has not been a conventional career,” is her understated summary. “Little about my career has gone to plan. Little of my life, perhaps.”

Still, there are benefits to life away from the tennis circuit, surely? “Oh, yeah. I can go out to dinner when I want. I can see friends, and I can live, I guess, a normal life. But, gosh how I miss it. I miss being competitive. I miss the whole thing. People think I’ve retired, but I haven’t — not at all. I’m still playing regularly and I’m coming back if I can. Martina (Hingis) is making a comeback and I think, ‘Oh, that’s interesting’. I’m hoping that 2006 will be my year. I’ve given myself until the end of it to return. If I haven’t done it by then, I’ll retire. I just don’t want to slip away. I want to go with a fight. Does that make sense?” It makes sense, of course. It makes absolute, sparkling, crystal-clear sense that the woman who was robbed of much of her career one cold afternoon in Germany would want to fight for another chance.

“I don’t feel like a victim and I don’t want to be regarded as a victim,” she says. But it’s difficult not to think of her as such, as she sits there, wrapped in her oversized coat, clutching her hot chocolate beneath the tinsel and fairy lights, talking in whispers about the dozen years since her world was turned upside down.

Seles leaves the warmth of the hotel and slides into the back seat of the waiting limousine. “Happy holidays, Steffi,” shouts the doorman as he shuts the car door for her and tugs at his peaked cap. “Sure,” she replies. “Thank you, sir.”

The car winds its way through Spanish Harlem towards our destination — Crotona in south Bronx; a small neighbourhood of poverty and violence. More than 90% of schoolchildren receive free lunches and 90% suffer asthma because of the pollution from the huge trucks that speed through the area.

Seles is heading for the rough side of town to witness an incredible programme called “Fight Back”, in which women and girls are taught ju-jitsu and self-defence to help them cope with the violence they face daily on their streets. She is here as an ambassador of Laureus, the international organisation that seeks to fund sporting projects like this one, where sport is used for the greater good. Seles has just been voted on to the Laureus Academy and is thrilled with the honour.

“Have you seen who they have in that academy?” she asks, wide-eyed. “I couldn’t believe it when I met them all. There are about 40 of the biggest sports stars ever. I met Nadia Comaneci (the Olympic gold-medal gymnast) — she was my hero when I was growing up, and now we’re both on this thing together.”

Seles says she really believes in sport. The way it pulls communities together, helps people have a common goal, gives them pride in themselves, self-esteem and physical skills. “It’s given me the sort of life I could never have expected to have when I was a little girl. I do think sometimes about how different my life would be without sport.”

It would have been incomparable. As a young girl, Seles was set for a life in a two-bedroom flat in a seven-storey apartment block in Novi Sad in what was then Yugoslavia (now Serbia & Montenegro). The family struggled to get by. Her father, Karolj, was a former children’s television presenter turned cartoonist, struggling on poor wages in a rundown economy.

When Seles was five, she insisted on going to watch her brother, Zoltan, play tennis. She says she watched for five minutes and was hooked. She was desperate to have a go herself. When she did, it heralded the biggest love affair of her life. “I just adored it. From the beginning I loved it. Who knows why? It was just everything to me. I couldn’t get enough of it. Tennis, tennis, tennis every day.”

By the time she was six, she was sleeping with her tennis racket at night and pestering her dad to take her down to the car park, where he set up a net and painted cartoon characters on the balls for her to try to hit. “I used to pretend that I was Tom attacking Jerry, who was drawn on the ball.” Karolj sometimes put a toy on the ground. If she could hit it, she could keep it. “I had a good toy collection,” she remembers. “It was all such fun. I was so happy. I look back on that time with such happiness. It was never about being a great tennis player or being ambitious. Dad wasn’t like that. He was ambitious, but it was just about having fun. That’s the key to success, isn’t it? It has to be fun.”

Her father never let the intricacies of the scoring system distract from the joy of the sport. When she was eight, she won the European under-12 championships without knowing the first thing about how to score. “I just turned to dad and he told me when I’d won a game,” she says.

Was that all it took to build a champion? A love of it? “I think it pretty much was. People think I must have been so talented at an early age, but I don’t know — was it talent or hard work? Who knows? I know that I wouldn’t have put the hard work in if it hadn’t been fun. The thing with a sport like tennis is that you have to train really hard every day, all year round. It makes it easier if you’re enjoying it. It makes it easier if there’s nice weather to train in, too, and great facilities.

“Tennis has to become everything to you if you’re going to make it to the top. You have to live it. It’s hard in a country like yours. You will never have great tennis champions from England because of the cold and dark, but most of all because people only care about the sport for two weeks a year, and then they’re on to something else. There’s just not a great love of the sport there. People seem to just love whatever’s in the news. When Wimbledon ’s on, you can’t get a court. Once it’s finished, no one wants to know. You have to want to play it all day, every day to get to the top.”

By the time Seles was 11, she was being taken very seriously on the tennis circuit. She won the Orange Bowl in Miami and was persuaded to move to Florida to play full-time at a tennis academy. She made the move in 1986 and still lives in the state, in Sarasota, on the west coast.

Seles was a no-nonsense player. She had a punishing two-fisted shot and strong return of serve. That every hit was accompanied by a loud grunt only served to emphasise their brutality. Years later, Martina Navratilova told her: “We were afraid of you, you know. You were this little girl who hit the ball hard.” Seles was one of the first power players in the women’s game and the victories came thick and fast.

Her first grand slam title was won at Roland Garros in 1990, aged 16, where she beat the world No 1, Steffi Graf, to become the youngest ever French Open champion. The victory kicked off a hugely successful period for Seles as she won 22 titles and reached 33 finals out of the 34 tournaments she played in between the beginning of 1991 and the beginning of 1993. Her fame had reached such proportions that she once took refuge in the apartment of Donald Trump to escape the pressure of media attention.

Pressure? She looks back on that period now and shrugs. “It all seemed so hard to cope with — all the attention back then. It was new and I was young. I felt so much pressure on me. When I look back, though, I didn’t know what pressure was, really. Did I?” Yet she did. While she played her way into the record books — visiting the most beautiful countries in the world — civil war raged in her home country, as Yugoslavia was torn apart. She was accused by Goran Ivanisevic, a Croat, of not doing enough for her native country.

“She does not seem to care about her country,” he raged. “She lives in the United States but does not know what flag to play under.” He attacked her for living in her plush Florida home while her former friends were being killed on the Bosnian front line. “Yeah, that was tough,” she says. “I look at the young players on the tennis circuit now and think, ‘Wow, I was dealing with life and death at that stage in my career’. The tennis was the easy part.”

The journey to the Bronx takes about 40 minutes from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Seles has spent most of it looking through the window. She says she used to have an apartment in New York and knows the city well from her many visits to play tennis here. “But I don’t know this part of it,” she admits, pointing out across the industrial landscape we are flashing past, towards a series of tall, tatty-looking buildings in the distance. “Gosh, do people live in there? ” she asks.

I suggest that they do. “They don’t look very nice,” she says, looking genuinely moved. “How awful for them.”

IT’S EARLY afternoon in south Bronx and Seles is in trouble. She is approached by a tough-looking, unshaven man dressed in a tight black T-shirt that does nothing to disguise his bulging muscles. He sports a black bandana pulled tightly across his head and he is staring straight at her. She’s not quite sure where to look, so she stares back but cannot match the intensity of his steely gaze.

Suddenly he grabs her hair and pulls it forcefully. She is dragged along for a few seconds, then she lifts her hands to his, twists his hands until his shoulders slump to one side, then throws him backwards until he lands in a heap on the floor. Seles steps away and smiles to herself. Her “attacker” jumps up and shakes her hand. Applause rings out around the community centre.

“Self defence ju-jitsu style,” says the compere. “Monica Seles, we salute you.”

It’s hard not to consider the short journey Seles has taken on this day — from the island of dreams to this complicated place in which women fear for themselves every time they venture out — as a giant metaphor for her life.

When she won her first Grand Slam tournament, she announced to the media that she would buy a Lamborghini with the winnings. She sashayed into the press conference afterwards resplendent in a little black miniskirt — eschewing the traditional attire of sweaty tracksuit and trainers. She was the darling of the tennis world, a little frightening, a little distant and ferocious with a racket in her hand, but the new star of the court, all the same.

Then, at the height of her career, the unthinkable happened. She was sitting between games during a quarter-final match in Hamburg in 1993 when a deranged 38-year-old called Gunther Parche ran from the crowd and stabbed her in the back.

A piercing scream rang through the Rothenbaum stadium and Monica Seles would never be quite the same again. She was rushed to hospital so that the physical impact of the attack could be treated, but the long-term effects are still with her. She left competitive tennis for more than two years. When she returned, her weight had ballooned, she was suffering depression, headaches and had recurring nightmares.

The whole incident was made far worse for her because Parche walked free after being given a two-year suspended sentence.

“It wasn’t just the stabbing, it was the fact that my innocence was lost that day,” she says. “I always believed in the justice system until then. Not now.”

Parche had attacked her because he was a fan of Graf and longed to see his heroine restored to her position as world No 1. He had his wish. Seles lay in a hospital bed, he walked free and Graf re-established herself as the leading player on the women’s Tour, regaining the No 1 ranking after the attack. Graf was able to do this because of the decision reached by most of Seles’s peers not to maintain her No 1 ranking during her convalescence. Gabriela Sabatini was the only player not to back the decision.

It’s perhaps unwise to make judgments, but one is left, at best, slightly surprised that Graf did not feel honour-bound to back Seles, given the extraordinary circumstances of the attack.

“People do ask that,” says Seles. “But I don’t know. What Gabriela did was very touching. It showed me what a special person she is. Steffi and I are fine, though. There’s no animosity between us and I wish her the best. I did realise more than ever, after the stabbing, that tennis is a business — a tough business. The other players are just waiting to take away your No 1 spot in any way they can. All those people that I toured the world with — I got on with them fine, but I suppose only two of them would really count as friends. Tennis is so competitive. I guess that’s the way it has to be.”

Graf visited Seles in hospital two days after the attack, but declared that she could not stay long because she was still playing in the tournament. Her attitude was considered callous and insensitive. “She just didn’t realise what I was going through. I’m the only person in sport this has happened to,” Seles explains. “Steffi had no idea of the impact it would have. It affected both our careers, but it really affected my life.”

Seles has never returned to Hamburg. In the week after the attack, while she was recovering from her injuries, she received yet more bad news — her father and coach, Karolj, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery in the summer of 1993 and had another operation for stomach cancer in December that year. He died in 1998. “I miss my dad and I know that I always will. It’s like I lost two people — my coach and my dad,” Seles says. “Every day something happens or someone says something to remind me of him. The hardest thing for me is the realisation that I will never be able to talk to him again.”

She says she finds it hard when she comes off the court now. She looks straight for him to tell her how it went and to talk the match over with him.

“I think about when I was a little girl, and he was telling me the scores. Gosh. Life was so much less complicated when I was a child. My happiest time was between the ages of six and 10. I would love to have stayed at that age for ever.”

Seles says she misses her father because he was always so bright and optimistic. “Not like me,” she adds. “I have this terrible dark side to my personality, which playing tennis keeps at bay. One of the reasons why I got so depressed after the stabbing was that I stopped playing tennis. I’m not very good when I’m not playing tennis. The dark side tends to try and take over. I become more and more unhappy, I eat too much, worry too much and get generally very miserable. In truth, most of the time, I’m not a terribly happy person, I guess. I can be happy, but mostly I’m not. It’s just the way I am. I’m working on it. Playing tennis helps.”

Seles made her comeback to the sport in August 1995 at the Canadian Open, storming to the final and a 6-0 6-1 win over Amanda Coetzer. It was an amazing achievement for the woman who had felt so depressed that she couldn’t pick up a tennis racket for two years. A guard stood close by while she played. She always has a guard at her matches since the stabbing.

The only remaining physical effects of the stabbing are the migraines that haunt her. She says she has found medication to control them, but they haven’t disappeared entirely. “They’re not like normal headaches — it’s this pain that makes you think your head will explode. I had to go to bed for days sometimes, just to escape them. There were times when I was tempted to quit a match because of them, but I never did. I always go through somehow.”

After her trip to the Bronx, it’s back into town so that Seles can attend a Laureus dinner in her honour that evening. Ed Moses, former 400m hurdles world record-holder and Olympic champion, will be there. “Lovely man,” she says. “A really lovely man.” As well as John McEnroe and her new buddy, Comaneci. “I’m so pleased she’s coming. We’re going to have such a laugh. I wonder what I should wear? Hey, did I tell you about the kids programme I’m working on?” Suddenly, she’s upbeat again, talking about the future. The dark moment has passed and she is buzzing with excitement about her new project — a programme for children aged from three to seven. She wants to teach them about health and fitness using the same techniques employed so effectively by her late father.

“The programme I’m working on is called healthy bodies/ healthy minds. It launches in February and it’s for after-school clubs in the US to teach young kids about nutrition and exercise in a fun way — with cartoon characters and music. There’ll be a fun website and all sorts of stuff. I really want to make it interesting. I’ve done loads of research and I think bright colours, music and funny characters are the keys to getting kids attention.”

Her phone bleeps while she’s chatting. It’s Comaneci. She has a cold and can’t come tonight after all. “Oh no,” Seles screeches. “Oh what a shame. Poor thing. I was really looking forward to seeing her. Poor Nadia. Poor little Nadia. She’s not well. Now, there’s a woman who had a tough, tough career.”

Seles looks off into the distance for a while and notices the lights of Manhattan sparkling ahead of us as we move slowly back into the city.

“There’s not much that I’d change about my career,” she says.

Really? “Okay, maybe there’s tons of stuff I’d change,” she admits with a smile.

“But I tell you, there’s a ton of stuff that I’d not change at all. I kind of think this year’s gonna be good for me.”

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