Former ATP Tour world number one and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia has after marriage and injuries slipped to a current ATP Tour ranking of 67.
And not since the dominance of Australian Open champions such as Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Rod Laver in the 1960s and 1970s had Australia recorded multiple countrymen winners.
The last Australian male to win the Melbourne title was Mark Edmondson in 1976, although Hewitt would finish as finalist in 2005. In women's singles, the last Australian winner was Christine O'Neil in 1978.
And so twenty years later the country of Australia, perhaps somewhat out of desperation, has once again embraced Dokic under its flag. Dokic, born in Yugoslavia, turned professional in 1998 and played as an Australian for two years before playing for Serbia and Montenegro from 2001-2005.
In 2000, Dokic was defeated in the first round of the Australian Open by Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. After the match, Dokic said, I lost to a player who has never been a player and, I guess, probably never will be.
Then after staging one of several comebacks only last year at Australia and winning several matches but failing to receive an Australian Open main draw wildcard, Dokic replied, I definitely think I deserved a wildcard into the main draw. I think Ive done more in one week and had more big wins in one week than some of those girls have in their whole careers.
As could be expected, these comments did little to endear Dokic to the Australian public. But Dokic, a player who reached a WTA Tour ranking of four in 2002 and reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2000, could still connect to some of her best tennis if her fitness and game will allow her.
The 25 year old Dokic, currently ranked 179, is at Melbourne this week competing in an Australian Open leadup tournament which awards an Australian Open wildcard to the singles winner. And instead of another falling out this year with Tennis Australia, Dokic sought forgiveness for her comments of past years.
I have apologized to him (Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley) and Tennis
Australia, Dokic said. I made some remarks in January that were out of line. At the time I should not have said that.
Confined for the most part of this year to minor league tennis tournaments, Dokic scored victories in three of her ITF tournaments (Florence, Caserta, Darmstadt) to raise her career singles title count to eight. Earlier this year, Dokic received a qualifying wildcard into the 2008 Australian Open, where she lost in the second round to 117th ranked Tamarine Tanagugarn of Thailand 6-2, 6-1.