JELENA Dokic must rely on a discretionary main draw wildcard or success in the qualifying event she will also need help to enter if she is to resume her stalled grand slam career at next month's Australian Open.
Joining a growing injury list that also includes Mark Philippoussis, Alun Jones, Sally Peers and promising youngster Nick Lindahl, Dokic succumbed to a left thigh injury while trailing junior Fed Cup team member Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 3-1 in yesterday's quarter-final of the wildcard play-off at Melbourne Park.
Former Wimbledon finalist Judy Dalton says the time has come to put an end to a blight on tennis — the grunt.
Dalton, the winner of nine grand slam doubles titles, claims she would have been prepared to forfeit a match against the grunter par excellence, Maria Sharapova — and has urged the current generation of tennis players to do so. "If that was me and I was playing Sharapova, I would be saying, 'If you continue with that you can have the match, I'll walk off, and I'll lodge a complaint,' " Dalton told The Age. "The other girls should say 'Fine, I'll forfeit the match.' " She nominated the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, as two of the other main grunt offenders. "Will it happen? I don't think so," she said.
..."I find it exceedingly frustrating that the WTA have not done anything about it," Dalton said. "It seems to me that any time there's any problems with any of 'the stars', that they're just too frightened to say anything to anybody, for fear of their jobs."
...Australian Open referee Wayne McKewen confirmed that a chair umpire would only consider taking action if a complaint was made by an opponent or if it was thought that the grunting was intentional to hinder the other player. In that case, he said, the umpire would speak to the player involved.
>> The fourth most-read story on the Age website on Wednesday...
In consultation with orthopaedic specialists in Sydney and Miami, Philippoussis is waiting for the swelling to subside before submitting to a fifth bout of surgery, and the second on his right leg in 11 months, but there is no rush. Instead, the 31-year-old is wondering where life might take him next, considering a long-held ambition to launch his own clothing line and philosophical about his fate.
"That's life," he said yesterday. "Of course it's going to be sad but sooner or later you know it's going to end and, if it does, I've had amazing memories and two of the biggest memories without a doubt have been the two Davis Cup wins, and that'll never ever change and I'm glad to say no one can ever take that away from me or take my name off the trophy.
"I'm not thinking about a comeback at the moment — I'm just going to be thinking about spending time with my family, spending time at home, and then it's different things. For at least two or three weeks I don't want to think about what I'm going to do: I just want to wake up and have breakfast and hang out with my family and friends."
TENNIS tops the list for sports-mad Australians, a new in-depth national survey shows.
In a surprise result, tennis (62 per cent) pipped swimming (61 per cent), with Aussie Rules third (57 per cent), as the sport in which most Australians are interested.
...The Sweeney survey calculates interest by combining data about how many Australians in capital cities participate in, attend, watch on television, listen to radio, read print media reports and use the internet for information about each sport.
TV viewing of tennis became the highest for any sport, with almost six of every 10 people tuning in.
AMELIE Mauresmo says her absence from the year-end top 10 for the first time in seven years has not diminished her belief that she can win next month's Australian Open... "Even as a veteran of 11 years in pro tennis, I still have a great passion for the game and I must say that there is less pressure being ranked lower," Mauresmo said.
...In her quest to reclaim a place among the tennis elite, Mauresmo agreed to play the Gold Coast event, only her second tier-three WTA tournament in the past four years. "My coach and I sat down months ago and made the decision to go to Australia early and prepare for the Open," Mauresmo said.
Mauresmo said she and her fitness advisers had not adjusted her off-season training regimen, which again included exhausting bike rides through the Pyrenees. "We take three weeks and go up to the Pyrenees to work on fitness. We do gruelling hills on the bike and lots of intense training to get into the best possible shape for the new season," she said.
The Circle of Chilean Sports Journalists on Wednesday named tennis star Fernando González the “Best of the Best.” González follows 2006 winner Matías Fernández, the ex-Colo Colo football star who now plays for Spain’s Villarreal.
10 questions for women's tennis in '08 - Matthew Cronin, Foxsports
4. Will Serena Williams fight off injuries and return to success?
One of the greatest warriors the sport has ever seen, Serena had a near perfect first quarter of '07, winning in Australia and Miami, but then faded, failing to win another title and having her lunch handed to her by Henin on three occasions. It was the first time in six years that Serena has played a full season and was unable to be the dominant player she thinks she is, so 2008 will be a great test of her desire to get back to the top again.
At her best — and that's a rare sight these days, given how often she allows herself to get out of shape and become injured — she's right there with the rest of the elite players. Expect the ultimate drama queen to put on a rousing show at one major and at a few other tournaments, but also to spend a substantial amount of time off the tour nursing ailments and living the L.A. fast life.
5. Will Lindsay Davenport or Monica Seles have a major impact?
New mom Lindsay Davenport will return for a full season in 2008. In limited appearances during the fall of 2007, she showed she could still play top-10 level tennis. But she was barely playing top-five level tennis when she briefly retired in 2006 (she hasn't won a Grand Slam since 2000), and there are few reasons to think she can push through a slew of other elite player in a major at the age of 31. But don't count her out at the 2008 Olympics, as it's her dream to win another gold medal. She'll push very hard to achieve it while some other top players will be exhausted from long French Open-Wimbledon campaigns.
Monica Seles, at 34 and nearly five years out of the game, recently dropped hints that she might return in the spring, but added that her bum feet won't allow her to practice much, which means that she'll be unable to regain her once stellar form. Plus, Seles has dropped a tremendous amount of muscle and now looks more like a model than she does an athlete. A return would be much celebrated for the popular former star, but it will be brief and unproductive.
Henin's triumphs, Hingis' troubles highlight 2007 season - Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN
Jaw-dropper of the year: We were ready to nominate Martina Hingis' sudden and sad revelation last month that she had tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon, accompanied by a vehement denial of wrongdoing.
The looming battle to try to clear her name, along with nagging injuries, compelled her to retire for the second time in five years. Then the other shoe dropped. Head-spinning news crossed our transom this week that Hingis' former fiancé Radek Stepanek, 29, has apparently proposed to fellow Czech Nicole Vaidisova, 11 years his junior, only a few months after he and Hingis split. We'll refrain from bad jokes about bouncing Czechs.
...Sophomore slump: Vania King, named our Most Intriguing Newcomer of 2006, struggled in her first full year on the WTA circuit and wasn't able to put together back-to-back wins from June to October.
Off-radar: Shenay Perry of the U.S. and China's Jie Zheng, both sidelined since midseason with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
Most dubious milestone: Switzerland's mighty mite and perennial top-20 player Patty Schnyder completed an 11th straight season without missing a Slam -- continuity to be admired -- but has reached a semifinal just once in those 44 appearances (the 2004 Aussie Open). After she frittered away two match points to Sharapova in a wearing round of 16 battle at the French Open, Schnyder said she felt like "the little champion who can't do anything."
Chakvetadze escapes unharmed after house robbery - Reuters
Russia tennis player Anna Chakvetadze escaped unharmed after several men broke into her house in southwest Moscow early on Tuesday, police said.
"Five to six unknown people wearing masks climbed over the fence of the country house at about 4:00 a.m. Moscow time (0100 GMT), then broke into the house and tied her parents up," a police spokesman was quoted as saying by the Russian media. "They took money and valuables worth some five million roubles (over $ 200,000)."
Her father Jamal appeared on Russian television, showing scabbed-over bruises on his scalp, cheek and forehead. "They started to beat me up, I resisted, then they hit me either with their hands or a pistol. It was dark, told me I had a child there, reminded me about it, so that I gave them everything. So I did," Jamal Chakvetadze told Russian television.
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