Let's all pretend we aren't home? Damir plans return to Australia By Will Swanton May 8, 2005 The Age Damir Dokic has described leaving Australia as the worst decision of his life and says his "crazy act" contributed to his daughter Jelena's dramatic slide down the world tennis rankings. From his home near the Serbian capital of Belgrade, Dokic said he was considering returning to the country that he left in a huff over what he claimed was a rigged Australian Open draw in 2001, and hoped to patch up his relationship with Jelena by offering to become her full-time coach again. Jelena, the Belgrade-born 22-year-old whom Tennis Australia groomed for greatness, has plummeted from fourth to 443rd in the world in the past 18 months. She can expect a telephone call from her estranged father soon. "I know I made a big mistake when I left Australia," Damir Dokic said. "All the time, I think about this. I was very, very angry when there was the bad draw but it was a big mistake for me to leave. "I made a very crazy act. Every day now, I think I've made a big mistake for me and for Jelena. The best years of my life were in Australia. Leaving has been a bad thing for Jelena's tennis . . . Everything good that happened, it happened in Australia. I might go back. "It was a very important decision for Jelena and for my family and I think I did it wrong. I am very sorry." Jelena was No. 4 in the world in 2002 and was still in the top 20 this time last year. But the former Wimbledon semi-finalist has been freefalling lately to go close to the ignominy of playing on the secondary Challenger Tour. "She speaks to her mother, not to me," Dokic said. "But I will speak with her. Before when we speak, we speak about when she was very popular and in a good position on the rankings. "She doesn't like to listen about that. But I will be talking to her again soon. I will ask Jelena to be her coach again. I want her to let me. It is possible." He might be in luck, given Jelena's comments after her first-round loss to Alyona Bondarenko in Portugal last month - a defeat that left her so shattered she didn't shake hands with her opponent. "I need to start at the beginning, like I did when I was 14 or 15," she told reporters. Re-enter Damir? He denied he would be a tyrant of a coach and said he understood the need for his daughter to have a life outside the goldfish bowl of professional tennis. But he made it clear he would not want Jelena to have too much of a life. "She must listen and work, work, work," he said. "She must have time for other things, I know this for fun and for shopping. "I do not want her to be a robot . . . but too much of these things are no good for tennis. I don't want her to work all day, but she must work a couple of hours each day and she must work very hard. She can only stop for a drink." Dokic was eliminated in the second round of the Rabat Open on Thursday, losing 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 to China's Na Li. but there's more...: Damir Dokic believes Tony Roche - with a little help from Pat Rafter - was the best thing that happened to Jelena while in Australia. "When we lived in Australia she practised with Mr Tony Roche", Damir said. "I will never forget him. He's a very nice person, a very good man. I think he's the best coach in the world. There were many times she practised with Mr Pat Rafter, together with Mr Tony. She used to practise for hours a day, but now she doesn't practise enough." Rafter, Australia's former world No. 1, had told him that succeeding in tennis was only 10 per cent reliant on natural ability , Damir said. "Mr Pat Rafter said to me, 'I think everybody must have talent, but 90 per cent of it is hard work'. Mr Pat started to practise with Mr Tony when he was 21 and his ranking was 60. And then he was no. 1 in the world."