Jelena Dokic’s dream run at the Australian Open ended today against third seed Dinara Safina.
Dokic, a wildcard entry ranked 187 in the world and on the comeback trail after battling depression and family issues, gave it her all in front of a patriotic Rod Laver Arena crowd.
But after so little tennis at this level and carrying an ankle injury suffered late in her fourth-round win against Alisa Kleybanova she eventually succumbed to the Russian 6-4 4-6 6-4.
Safina will now play Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals.
Dokic’s march to the quarter-finals has been the story of the tournament so far and her determination, attitude and apologies for past behaviour, which was largely influenced by her estranged father Damir, have won back the hearts of her adopted nation.
In a gripping match Dokic lost a tight first set 6-4 but bounced back immediately in the second to break the big-hitting Russian, who served 11 double faults in the match, and take a 3-0 lead.
Safina then held serve to love and broke back, only to lose her next service game to go 5-2 behind.
Although she broke again in the ninth game it was not enough and a double fault handed Dokic, who hit a number of sublime winners down the line, the second set 6-4.
It was more of the same in the third. Dokic failed to hold serve in the opening game but took the Russian to four deuces in the next before the Russian finally closed it out for a 2-0 lead.
Both players’ error counts continued to mount but the games went with serve until the eighth when a backhand winner by Dokic brought her back to level terms at 4-4.
It was short-lived though, as another lengthy game, where Dokic saved three break points, finally went Safina’s way, and she wrapped up the match when Dokic found the net.