Melbourne Park, 16 December 2010 | Darren Saligari
Jelena Dokic has fought her way through to the semifinals of the AO Play-off after surviving a scare in her final round-robin match against sixth seed Tammi Patterson.
Dokic, the third seed, worked hard to win the first set 7-5 before Patterson struck back to take the second 6-2. The Australian Open 2009 quarterfinalist dug in in the third to overcome her younger opponent 6-3 and continue her campaign for a wildcard into Australian Open 2011.
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While she didn’t play her best tennis today, Dokic said she was happy to come away with the win.
“I didn’t play the best match, but the important thing is to get through, which is what I did,” said Dokic after the match.
Dokic said she “didn’t get the ball to the corners”, something she will have to rectify if she’s to make it to Sunday’s final.
The match started badly for Dokic as Patterson kept any nerves out of sight to break the former Wimbledon semifinalist in the opening game.
Dokic showed her frustration in the fourth game as she hit herself in the head a couple of times. The self-inflicted blows worked as the third seed secured the break back.
Patterson’s second serve came in for some attention throughout the match as Dokic used it as a launching pad for several attacking forays.
The two exchanged breaks once more in the sixth and seventh games as they continued to test each other’s game for weaknesses.
With both players content to slug it out from the baseline in the opening set, it was some attacking moves to mid-court that took Patterson by surprise and helped bring about her downfall.
A blistering backhand down the line sent Patterson to the ropes and a missed forehand from the sixth seed was enough to send her crashing to the canvas as Dokic secured the first set 7-5.
Halfway to home and Dokic looked as if she may run away with the second, but Patterson began the second set the same way she started the first – with a break of the Dokic serve. A pair of feeble forehands into the net gave Patterson a confident start to the second set.
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The 20-year-old Victorian forced her way back into the match with some powerful ground strokes, taking the second set 6-2 as Dokic’s mind began to wander.
“I really went down mentally, but I was able to regroup, which is what’s important,” Dokic explained.
“It’s hard because I’ve had three completely different matches and I didn’t know how she plays and what to expect and she came out there and was just really swinging at the ball.”
Dokic clicked back into gear in the third as she held serve to open, unlike in the previous two sets.
Dokic raced to a 3-0 lead as the match appeared to be slipping away from Patterson.
Patterson, however, had one final break up her sleeve, which she used in the fifth game, but Dokic broke straight back to maintain her 4-2 lead.
A smart crosscourt backhand pass left Patterson stranded mid-court reaching for a ball that had long since passed her by as Dokic treated the crowd to one of her trademark fist pumps.
Patterson held serve but she was only delaying the inevitable – a strong service game had the No.3 seed on her way to the showers and the semis where she will play top seed Alicia Molik. In the other semi, Olivia Rogowska will face Sophie Ferguson.
Dokic said she will have to lift her game if she’s to continue to Sunday’s final.
“I have to lift up my game and just get all my percentages up – first serves, second serves, my shots, everything.”
“But I seem to play better as I play my matches and that has always been the case with me.”