Asked whether she was prepared to contest the Open's January qualifying event — for which, incidentally, she would still need a wildcard — Dokic said: "Honestly, I would rather play qualifying.
"This is something that would probably suit me better overall for my game and the harder I'm made to work early on I think it would be easier for me later on to get up the rankings, so I actually wouldn't mind playing qualifying in any event."
Pressed on whether she would actually turn down a wildcard — and the guarantee of a first-round losers' cheque of $19,400 — if one was offered by Tennis Australia, Dokic backpedalled slightly. "Not necessarily," she said. "Again that's something I would have to think about, but I wouldn't actually mind playing qualifying — I think for me it would be better."
TENNIS players or associates found guilty of match-fixing at the Australian Open face jail terms of up to 15 years, with Tennis Australia and Victoria Police yesterday announcing details of a joint partnership, including a special crime taskforce, designed to protect the integrity of the sport.
...TA's policy covers accredited players and coaches and guests, staff and media, and includes the establishment of a confidential hotline to report alleged corruption, a ban on unauthorised use of laptops courtside, a block on gambling websites on publicly accessible computers at Melbourne Park and increased security measures designed to restrict access to players.
But unlike Philippoussis, who needs surgery on his right knee, Dokic plans to revive her summer after rest and treatment. "(My injury) was from not playing a lot of tennis," she said. "You do as much as you can in practice but lack of matchplay is difficult. It will keep me off court a couple of days."
Tiley is playing his wild-cards close to his chest, saying only that the beneficiaries are based on two main criteria - youth and form. "We'll take the next three or four days off for Christmas and then there's the Gold Coast (women's event) and Adelaide (men's) qualifying," he said. "We don't want to jump the gun without giving everyone an opportunity. (But) this is a serious comeback.
"(Dokic is) doing it the right way. She's not expecting anything. She's going out to make things happen."
...In other news, talented Slovakian-born Jarmila Gajdosova, 20, has been granted Australian residency after four years.
THEY used to be renowned for their love of the A-list lifestyle, but tennis couple Lleyton and Bec Hewitt have had a good whack of the reality stick of late - even keeping their daughter Mia's second birthday a media-free event.
The celeb parents were again keeping a low profile at Castle Towers shopping centre on Sunday as they queued up with Mia to have a photo with Santa.
"Not only I had to compete against Marcos but also the Melbourne Park stadium cheering for him. I played a great match that day and this is certainly one of my best memories in tennis."
Within the space of 48 hours, though, the split personality of Monfils was on show as he followed up his flamboyant win against Baghdatis with an inhibited display against compatriot and friend Richard Gasquet.
..."I simply enjoy the moment . . . players say they only play their best tennis 10 per cent of the year if not less. Still it is important to learn how to win even when you don't play your best game."
Andy Murray (Britain) Moody and quick to bemoan his fate on court, the Scot is also a mind reader, capable of blunting brute force with the power of his anticipation. At age 20, he already has broken through in a fashion, winning three minor tour events and producing victories over Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko. He is a household name in many a British household, but 2008 should be the year when he goes global by advancing deep into the second week at a Grand Slam tournament and by soaring into the top four in the rankings. The wild cards are his physical condition (he has been injury-prone) and how he copes with his latest coaching change. After working with American übermentor Brad Gilbert last year through the British Lawn Tennis Association, Murray decided he had heard enough from Gilbert and created his own support structure.
What is not in doubt is Murray's talent: subtler than most of his peers but abundantly clear to the world's big hitters who can't quite believe that would-be winner is coming back at them down the line with such little apparent effort.
It is this confidence level that both she and her coach have firmly believed in. To his credit, Van Harpen has coached several top stars of yesteryear, including the pugnacious Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and the gutsy Patty Schn[yder.
"But with due respect to all of them, Maria stands out as the best listener. She is so eager to listen to what I have to say to her after each match, after every training session, at any time, on or off the court," Van Harpen said.
...The coach and his pupil returned to their Valencia base to continue their preparations for the new season. This includes rigorous physical conditioning, an early departure for Down Under to tune up for the Australian Open. "She has the appetite for playing big games and she has the ability to push her way right through to the top 10 on the WTA Tour," he noted.
Masters of Legends ... and me - Justin Gimelstob, SI.com
I was in New Jersey last week, prepping for my annual charity fundraiser against my childhood hero, John McEnroe, when I got a phone call from his agent, Gary Swain. He asked if I would be interested in partnering up with Mac for the McFit Masters of Legends, a team competition here in Germany. John was supposed to play with his brother, Pat, but the victorious Davis Cup captain had a nagging injury and they were in desperate need of a substitute.
...My normal lack of a personal restraint aside, I would have played for free. (I hope the tournament organizers don't see this!) I was finally going to get to do something I had dreamed about since I was a young kid who watched Johnny Mac play, imitating his strokes in the mirror and his temper tantrums in my junior tournaments. I was going to play doubles with him.
...The whole week has been like a fairy tale for me. I'm sure all the things I'm trying to savor this week have become second nature to Mac at this point. But for someone who grinded through the lower levels of the ATP Tour during large parts of my career, I'll never quite grow accustomed to the first-class accommodations and treatment that one of the true stars of the games gets on a regular basis.
The night they arrived in Seoul, Korea, for the first stop of the tour, Roger called Pete and asked what he was doing. When Pete said, "Nothing," Roger invited him up, just to hang out and talk - which they did. "It was a lot of fun," Pete said, "It's funny, but I don't think I ever did that once in my playing days - just called a guy to see if he wanted to hang out some. This was a different situation, but still. . . the whole exo tour had that nice feeling of camaraderie. We traveled together, we ate together, we got to know each other pretty well. Roger is an easy guy to talk to."
...At the end of our conversation, I asked Pete if his father, Sam, had watched the Asian exos. Pete just shrugged and said, "Naw, he doesn't get Tennis Channel."
Brazil Open Tennis Tournament Makes Environmentally Friendly Strides
- Press release
The tournament will plant 500 trees to neutralize carbon emissions during the competition and will utilize text messaging through cellular phones as an alternative to brochures in diffusing tournament information such as daily programs and results. Participants will have the choice to opt into the free service at any time during the Open which will additionally include tips on what they can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, such as reducing energy consumption, using biodegradable materials and avoiding plastic products.
In efforts to save energy, all unnecessary power generators, air conditioning units and lights will be shut down throughout the night. Bosch, one of the tournament sponsors, will provide the latest versions of energy savers/reduced environmental impact refrigerators, freezers, microwaves etc. in all tournament areas.
The daily garbage generated at the site, including ball cans, plastic bottles and old racquet strings, will be used by local children in the Berimbau Project. The Project consists of craft work created using recyclable materials and will be exhibited at the Banco do Brasil booth.
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