She needed three sets again. At this point, you can bet Jelena Dokic doesn’t care.
The 25 year-old wildcard whose comeback story has been well documented overcoming her demanding Dad and a long battle with depression continued her amazing run advancing to the Round of 16 with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 upset over 11th seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki at Rod Laver Arena.
After committing 16 unforced errors to drop the first set, the popular Dokic who’s representing Australia seized command winning six of the next seven games with the thunderous ground game that once had her ranked in the top four before her life turned upside down.
She dominated the talented Wozniacki following a first set which saw the gifted 18 year-old serve six aces. Dokic dictated play smacking seven of 31 winners while limiting her opponent to only 12 total points easily capturing the second set to level the match.
After they exchanged early breaks in the final set, a resilient Dokic got the pivotal break of serve when during an extended rally that saw one of her forehands catch the baseline, she finished it off with a wicked backhand up the line pumping her fist to loud cheers.
It turned out to be the difference as she ran off the final four games breaking again in the seventh game before getting to 40-Love setting up three match points. Following a couple of miscues, the unseeded Dokic made no mistake ripping a forehand just out of Wozniacki’s reach sealing the victory.
Remarkably, it’s the first time during her career she’s made the second week of the Australian Open. Ironically, Dokic’s previous best result down under at Melbourne Park was in her debut as a then 15 year-old teenager when she got to the third round.
In fact, before her return which was made possible by winning wildcard matches last month, she hadn’t gotten past the first round since 1999 making this run all the more special.
Dokic will await the winner of the ongoing three set battle between No.5 Ana Ivanovic and 19 year-old Russian powerhouse Alisa Kleybanova with a chance to make the quarterfinals.
Before this tournament began, who would’ve thought it was possible? Given what she’s been through, the tennis must seem easy for Dokic.
There’s not a better story.
With Ivanovic digging out of a double break 0-3 hole squeaking out a second set breaker, she’s trying to make it a pretty good Day Five for women’s higher seeded players. Only Wozniacki didn’t advance.
Top seeded Jelena Jankovic prevailed over Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 6-4 and No.3 Russian Dinara Safina made quick work of Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-2 to advance to Round Four.
Also moving on were Russians Vera Zvonareva (7) and Nadia Petrova (10). No.15 Frenchwoman Alize Cornet needed three sets to eliminate No.19 Slovak Daniela Hantuchova coming back for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory. Also going three was No.16 Marion Bartoli pulling out a third round win over Czech Lucie Safarova 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Updating the Ivanovic-Kleybanova encounter, the Russian strung the upset winning the final set 6-2 for a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2 triumph. The biggest victory of her career. She’ll play Dokic next for a spot in the Final Eight.
Djokovic goes four to edge Delic: Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic was pushed hard by American Amer Delic but showed great fortitude advancing with a well earned 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory to advance to the Round of 16.
They split the first two sets making it anyone’s match due to the heavy serve and big ball striking of Delic. But a focused Djokovic was able to get the break he needed in set three with his aggressive opponent making enough errors.
However, a game Delic wouldn’t go away going shot for shot with the No.3 seeded Serb making for some entertaining tennis. It eventually needed a tiebreaker to decide and looked like it might go five when the American went up an early minibreak.
But it turned around when Djokovic stopped playing during a rally convinced a Delic shot was long challenging it. If he was wrong, he would’ve been in a 1-4 hole. Replays showed that the Serb had eagle eyes because it missed by about an inch leaving both players to grin before the pivotal next point was played.
A couple of Delic errors allowed Djokovic to go up a minibreak but the fun wasn’t over when one of the 26 year-old former Bosnian’s forehands was ruled out. He instantly challenged and when the replay showed it had caught the line, both players again laughed with the unseeded current Jacksonville, Florida resident giving his close buddy a thumbs up as if to say, ‘I gotcha back.’
Unfortunately, it was the last laugh because Djokovic had a little too much winning the biggest points to pull out the entertaining affair.
Showing good sportsmanship, the two hugged and congratulated each other on a well played match. If only the same could’ve been said off the court where some ugliness took place with a female getting hit by a chair forcing Australian Open security to toss out a few spectators.
It was a sad way to conclude such a great match.
In other men’s action, American Andy Roddick (7) kept it going with a straight set victory over 36 year-old veteran Magician Fabrice Santoro 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. The 27 year-old whose best results down under have come in odd years making three semis blitzed Santoro with 22 aces and 50 winners.
He’ll next meet Tommy Robredo, who straight setted Lu Yen-Hsun 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. If Roddick wins, he could setup a U.S. Open rematch with Djokovic assuming the man they call Nole beats the Mardy Fish-Marcos Baghdatis winner currently underway.
Another men’s seed who advanced included No.8 Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, who needed four sets to eliminate Gilles Muller 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.
Meanwhile, gifted 20 year-old Croat Marin Cilic (19) ousted No.11 Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 setting up a Round of 16 match against Del Potro.
Also going on now is Stanislas Wawrinka (15) and Tomas Berdych with the 20th seeded Czech looking to finish off the Swiss in four.
As for the big third round match, Roger Federer has captured the first two sets over former 2005 winner Marat Safin leading 6-3, 6-2, 2-2. If Federer prevails, he would get Berdych who prevailed in four 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 matching his best result down under (2007, 2008-4th Round).