Tennis Prose



Kirilenko and Dokic Also Contemplating Comebacks

Andy Murray, Kim Clijsters, Tatiana Golovin all declared their high profile comebacks in 2019. Two more former top players may add themselves to the comeback hysteria in 2020.

Maria Kirilenko posted an Instagram video of her hitting balls in Russia. She looks super fit and sharp and at age 32 (33 in January) she may be seriously considering a return to WTA competition. I posted a comment to the video, “Kirilenko Komeback!!” The next day Maria, “liked” my comment.

Kirilenko reached a top ranking of no. 10 in 2013 and won six WTA singles titles, compiling a 364-257 won-loss record. Her last match was in 2014 in Beijing.

Kirilenko played in two Grand Slam doubles finals, reaching a doubles ranking of 5, with 12 doubles titles.

Another player also seems to have the itch to comeback…Jelena Dokic today posted a video of herself hitting from the baseline, looking seriously fit and sharp enough, like Kirilenko, to be playing this week in China or Linz.

Dokic even asked her followers if we think she looks good enough to try a comeback? Of course, everyone approved of that idea.

Now 36, Dokic has not played since 2013. She reached no. 4 in the world in 2002. She faded from the sport in the mid 2000s before mounting a comeback in 2008 and 2009 where she stunned the tennis world by making the quarterfinals at Australian Open, losing to Dinara Safina. Her first round win in three sets vs Tamira Paszek was her first Grand Slam match win since 2003.

Her last pro match was in 2013 in the AO Wildcard qualfiying tournament.

In 2017 she published her best-selling autobiography “Unbreakable.”

Dokic won six career WTA singles titles and reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals, her best major result. She also reached the finals of the 2001 Roland Garros doubles tournament.

So when is Vince Spadea going to finally try his “comeback?”



  • catherine · October 8, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Bad decision – none of these players will make a mark and they will quickly disappear again, having been embarrassed and/or humiliated. Not so much age – you just have keep playing all the time.

    Andy’s isn’t the same kind of comeback – he had a long layoff with injury.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Catherine, these four players – Golovin, Clijsters, Dokic and Kirilenko could all comeback and do as well as Kimiko Date or better. If they all want to try then let them, it adds another dimension of intrigue to the WTA.

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I am fully in support of all players that want to make a comeback and play for the love of the game…just not at the expense of other players. They’ll have to earn it and if they’re good enough they’ll make it.

    I’ll never forget what Dan said about Kirilenko. Sadly I agree. Her game is less remarkable than the fact she’s a good looking lady!

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Scoop, let’s see em try. Tennis is a brutally honest sport, players that can’t cut it don’t get much if any special treatment. They’re welcome to see how much their bodies and egos can take.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Kirilenko won six titles in singles and was 10 in the world, her game was superb, she had a very good career. If Kirilenko’s looks overshadow her results to Dan well then we know what he’s focusing on 🙂 Fine player, fine career.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    I read Linz tournament changed the venue for the player party to suit Gauff because she’s a minor. Why don’t they just roll out the red carpet for Gauff everywhere she goes, plays and practices. The WTA should just revolve around Gauff starting now. WTA should change it’s name to the Coco Gauff World Tour. Send a memo to every player, Coco Gauff is going beat all of Serena’s records and earn the WTA trillions. US Open making blueprints to build another level in Ashe Stadium for Gauff matches in 2020.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Andrew, if Date Krumm could cut it at over 40 so too can Kirilenko and Dokic and Golovin and Clijsters. All four back to top 100 if they work hard enough and really want it. Date Krumm proved it is possible. Venus still wins matches at 39, she’s older than all four.

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Scoop, if I get my serve to 140 mph, train with Olympians, get a few physical trainers, and win a few challengers back to back, I like my chances as well.

    There’s an ocean of difference between “can do” and “accomplishment”. It’s why Kosakowski isn’t too hundred or even top 1000 these days. Because it didn’t happen.

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    And stop jabbing Kirilenko for being a good looking player, she knows it!!!

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    World Gauff Tour works for me. Please also create tours for other young players and make it retroactive, such as the Tommy Ho Tour and the Larcher de Brito Tour of Professionals.

  • Hartt · October 8, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Scoop, I wrote about Linz changing the location of their player party for Coco on another thread. They moved it from a casino to a lobby, and pictures of it show a very bleak space, although the women were dressed in glamourous 1920s style dresses. (Except Coco, of course, who was in casual clothes. I don’t imagine she had time to get a costume.)

  • Hartt · October 8, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Here is what Naomi said about her father’s OCC:

    “WTA Insider: During the on-court coaching timeouts this week, your father was very positive and he often said he trusted you to make the right decisions. In terms of getting you to trust your instincts this week, how instrumental was he?
    Osaka: I think he knows that I overthink. Literally when I play all I can think is percentages and formulas. What percent chance is she going to serve this way compared to that way? What did she serve the last point?

    So yeah, my dad can kind of sense that and he knows when I’m thinking too much. So when he tells me that he trusts me, it just helps me relax a little bit. When he says that it helps me trust myself too at the same time.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Hartt, sounds like Annacone’s “trust the process” theorem in different words. Imagine if every player in the world just trusted the process, everybody would win always. Osaka babbled a bunch of sophisticated cliches, she said words but she said nothing.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Hartt every tournament is going to give Gauff everything she wants and even more. Other players may come to resent it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Too bad Kosakowski wasn’t able to stick it out for more years like Estrella Burgos and Sandgren did

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    “beauty of a one hander” Scoop saw it! He practiced right next to the former UCLA freshman standout who qualified for Indian Wells by beating Goffin, lost to Thiem and nearly pulled out the second set, and played Kyrgios to a standstill at one of his final tournaments in Sarasota.

    Kosakowski. Injured in 2014, never made it back.

  • Andrew Miller · October 8, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    These WTA past stars are probably coming back for a lot of reasons. Mostly because the tennis court is where they experienced their greatest success. It’s why I say what does Serena Williams have to look forward to, really? Her HOF speech? When you hang up the racquet and the sneakers, it’s over.

    Theoretically it’s possible for at least one of them to get some good results. But they may be playing for other reasons. In Dokic case, possibly to find some peace and sell some books.

    I think a close second may be that these players want their kids to see them play. The idea of a legacy is powerful and their kids probably see them only as mom that makes PBJ or lunch or who takes me to school etc.

    But mostly because of the hanging up of the racquet thing. It’s like Clijsters said. She was a stay at home mom and things were predictable. Then she said what the heck, let’s give my kids some more memories of me playing. She even talked herself into it, saying to the effect the sport hasn’t changed that much.

  • Jon King · October 9, 2019 at 2:57 am

    I think a good comparison with Gauff is basketball’s Zion Williamson. Both are considered by many to be their sports young prodigies.

    Major differences in approach by their supporting team though. Zion’s coach keeps saying that he is not even his team’s best player right now and that he will have to pay his dues for several years. Gauff’s dad arranges huge autograph sessions and eagerly talks about her being the future greatest of all time.

    I get it that the WTA and NBA are going to ride Zion and Co Co as much as they can. If they fail, some other young prodigy will come along soon enough.

    But its up to their supporting team to shield them a bit. And Gauff’s people, from Coach Patrick to her parents, are instead throwing gasoline on the fire.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 5:17 am

    One of Mouratoglous big 13 yr old signings from Florida is struggling with poor results the last six months. Stuck at 10 Utr and losing to 9 and 8s. Training in Nice not helping, results in ITFs lousy.

  • Andrew Miller · October 9, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Wish they didn’t do that to the poor kid. Sets expectations through the roof, through no fault of her own. This shouldn’t be praised that things turn into a circus, and this is all with the OK of the agent.

    Anyways. It is what it is. Hope she handles it ok because the next greatest thing on the women’s tour is always arriving.

  • Hartt · October 9, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Gauff won her match when Kozlova had to retire in the decider with a calf injury. I was hoping Gauff would lose, not anything against her, but I think the continuing hype will do her more harm than good.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Mouratoglou did it for himself, to sign up (and pay I was told) a 13 yr old kid who won Orange Bowl and finaled at Eddie Herr and won two nationals already, looking like a future great. Hire her to train in Nice to make it look like he developed her. The kid gets a sense of entitlement, that she will be WTA top 5 automatically, the next Serena. She was already training with pros at USTA Orlando, invited to be a part of Fed Cup in Asheville. Then the wheels came off, she went from superstar to average results since going to Mouratoglou. I saw this girl play at Herr, she had a total complete game already at 13. I said back then, she has everything already, baseline, great volleys, attack game, not sure if she can get any more complete. Some players peak too soon.

  • catherine · October 9, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Hartt – Gauff will reach the final without playing a complete match 🙂

  • Hartt · October 9, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Catherine, at this rate that may well happen! 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 10:12 am

    If the hysteria of when Capriati first burst on the scene was crazy, this time with Coco being manufactured into becoming the next teen phenom franchise product will be even more extreme. Every tournament must be begging Gauff to play. And when that happens, every tournament will do whatever they can to extend her appearance as long as possible. Is she really winning these matches on her own merit and skill or is she getting some assistance? Not sure. “Believe zero of what you read and hear and believe half of what you see…” Question everything.

  • catherine · October 9, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Scoop – I think Gauff’s getting instructions through an ear bud (her hair hides it) and her opponents are also being told when to do a DQ and retire or lose convincingly.

    Coco’s a good player obviously but the opposition in Linz isn’t terrific. Donna Vekic bt Hercog 6-1 6-1 yesterday – in Beijing Hercog bt Angie in the 1st round – cruel but true.

    Re the prodigy who had the big wins and went off to PM’s place and then downhill – probably not a good idea to go to France (does she live in US ?)at 13 anyway. Also you can have a pretty good game physically but lag behind mentally, as we know.

  • Jon King · October 9, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Scoop, you are so right about this Gauff situation and Mouratoglou. We were on the next court when he was flown to Florida and worked with Serena on her comeback. Serena and Venus were hitting with the Jenkins brothers and Richard Williams was picking up balls with a tube. Mouratoglou would stand and watch with arms folded, then he started his own exercise routine, stretching and jogging around the 4 court complex. He is not a technical guy, but a good marketer.

    We first saw Gauff at Sly Blacks little academy at South County Regional Park in Boca Raton when she was 8 years old. She was already playing multiple sports and was genetically way above the other kids. Sly Black was a great coach, he put the girls through very tough physical workouts. His own daughters are also great players although one had her career cut short by injury. Sly Black developed Gauff. By 12-12.5, she was almost the size she is now. By the time Mouratoglou invited her over, she was fully developed.

  • Andrew Miller · October 9, 2019 at 11:17 am

    No worries, I’m waiting for NZoko aka Coco from New Zealand. I heard she thinks she’s a lion and a g.o.a.t. at the same time, hits the forehand 200mph, serves like Karlovic, has a tennis mind like McEnroe, looks like a cross between Goerges and Kirilenko and she’s multi every ethnicity. NZoko, people. She’s coming.

  • Andrew Miller · October 9, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Mouratoglou certainly seems like a fantastic marketer. Finds something that works amazingly well and puts a Mouratoglou sticker on it. Gets tons of new paying students. One reason the Nadals look at that say, we’ll do that, our players won’t be any worse. If Patrick can pull this off we can too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    I was told Mouratoglou pays Serena to pretend he’s her coach, for image and branding reasons. He gets far more out of it than she does. Read on Dokic’s wikipedia page she was about to sign a contract to train at an academy at the end of her WTA career, another case of a player being paid to rep an academy?

    “Shortly after, Dokic left the Nikola Pilić tennis academy. She was due to sign a contract to be in the academy for a year, but she instead returned to Borna Bikić, her coach. Dokic said she was not satisfied with the contract Pilić’s Academy offered her.”

    So I think we are unveiling a secret in tennis – some or maybe even many top pro players are PAID/CONTRACTED to represent academies and wanna be coaches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Jon, thanks for those Coco insights. Strange that she stopped growing, but her parents are no giants. I do wonder if Venus subconsciously tanked that match. Do you know anything about Clervie?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Andrew, do you remember Monique Viele? She was another future GOAT who never got into the top 500.

  • Jon King · October 9, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Scoop, we have seen Clervie Ngounoue play one time. Excellent athlete and great size. Very physically mature girl for her age. She seems like she plays more aggressively than most of the junior girls who are quite defensive for the most part.

    Clervie took apart a girl we have trained with named Charlotte Owensby. Owensby is a strong player so for Clervie to easily handle her and be 3 years younger…looks like she is going to be quite a player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Jon, I saw her play twice at Herr, she looks older. I have heard some big name pros are older than they say. From reliable sources. Clervie has definitely plateaued the last six months but that is normal, the ups and downs of development. A year ago she was a terror, suddenly she is losing that aura but it will return. I was shocked by her complete game, her volley skills under pressure around the service line. Fearless. Owensby is another very good player, saw her play too.

  • Andrew Miller · October 9, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    I’ll spare the kid. I don’t think she knows what to say when her agent makes it seem the earth revolves around her, and I’d guess she’s a little embarassed but wants to make sure everyone understands she appreciates the gestures.

    I think like Jon King I think, it would be great if there are people looking out for her. I was wondering if maybe her dad encourages her to just be herself. I cannot blame them if there’s another motivation, such as grab the cash. A pro tennis career is a fragile thing.

    I think it’s awful hard to stay away from the perks of the sport. I read how Tommy Paul made up his mind to meet up with friends less and made things more boring for himself – practice courts, hotel, watch tape, eat dinner etc, even in places where he knows lots of people.

    It’s unbelievable to say this, but that’s a good sign for a player. When they take the time to prep for their matches etc. It looks a little or a lot anti social, but for Tommy Paul he’s like this is going to pay off, I will do better, I am here to see what I can do and put in my best effort. And if he wins? Then it’s hey, let’s savors this W.

  • Andrew Miller · October 9, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Scoop, I remember a lot of players. The name is a little familiar. Right now Ms. Gauff strikes me a little like Ryan Harrison, who was a very mature player right off the blocks. I liked the Harrison game too, just not the hitch off the backhand side, which opponents figured out. It took years for the Harrisons to address a few serious flaws.

    But she’s a good player and I hope she stays sane. Seeing players self destruct on tour is the norm, so I wish her luck.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I see Gauff as a superstar in the making, she can play pro level elite level already. But there is so much money tied to her she may get help but in my opinion doesnt need it. The powers that be should just let her do it naturally, no freebies, walkovers, defaults, let her warn it the hard way. That’s how champions are made. The free ride route didn’t work for Young or Harrison or Sock.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Yes Tommy Paul made the decision, Success over having a good time with friends. Sacrifices pay off in the long run.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 9, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    Catherine, yes that junior girl was based in S Florida. The move to France has flopped. There is a video of the kids speech at a function at Mouratoglou academy, fundraiser, and she made a speech introducing Serena who was there. Not something a 13 yr old should be doing. Leave it at that.

  • catherine · October 10, 2019 at 12:48 am

    Danielle Collins has rheumatoid arthritis. At 25 that’s a bit tough. I’ve never known any top player have it before and now there’s Woz and Collins.

    Cocomania advances in Linz. Petko bt Julia G SS, 6-0 in the SS but there’s no mention anywhere, just Gauff’s old matches. Coco plays Bertens I think – if so Kiki is exhausted, travel etc, so that’s Coco through to the sf.

    Julia must have been injured I imagine – or fall out from her coaching upheaval. Difficult for Andrea beating an old buddy like that.

    The more I hear about some of these junior players the more I think Tennis Canada have done the right thing with Bianca and other young players. Don’t know if Hartt would agree.

    13 year old girls are not commodities.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 1:58 am

    Barely remember Monique Viele. Fine game. Watched the brief youtube documentary. Bolletieri seemed invested, he lost her to Macci? Her dad seemed to say the right stuff.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 3:46 am

    Monique Viele was another exploitation case. Rick Macci said she was a “can’t miss” over and over again. Her parents allowed her to be marketed as a sex object. Her dad threatened to sue the WTA because the age limits were “holding her back”.

  • catherine · October 10, 2019 at 7:08 am

    There are some real horror stories around junior girls, not so much boys for obvious reasons. Some journalist should do a story on it. There was book in the 80s about junior girls in the US, centering on a junior champ who flopped, can’t remember the details.

    The age limits should stay. It would be discraceful if
    WTA bends to pressure.

  • catherine · October 10, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Heather Watson bt Q Wang in Tienjin and the only people there were on the court. Didn’t spot a single soul watching. Not even for a Chinese player. Match wasn’t great but really.

  • Hartt · October 10, 2019 at 7:52 am

    I totally agree that the WTA rules for junior players should remain. Those young players need time to further develop their games, even those who are mature physically. But just as important, they need time to develop emotionally and mentally.

    Catherine, I’m not sure what you mean about Tennis Canada doing the right thing regarding the junior players. They don’t over hype the young players, and like to have a say in who they have as coaches, etc. That is probably wise. They give some financial (and other) support to a young player like Leylah Annie Fernandez, who is not part of their training system, although I don’t know if that support is very extensive.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Well now Collins has her excuse for a disappointing second half of 2019 and she now has a new media platform. Not sure I’m buying that Mardy Fish has a depression disorder or mental problems or a heart issue. Or Vee’s Sjogrens syndrome. Or Caro. I had a friend who had rheumatoid arthritis in her 20s and she could not do athletic activities. She was very limited. And these pro players can keep winning pro matches with RA? Not sure I’m buying it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Did they give Coco a special exemption into the year end finals yet? Did they give her a free pass into the second week of AO yet?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Andrew I recently watched that Viele doc too, boy they were counting those chickens before the eggs even hatched. Way too much pressure to put on a kid not even 15. She had major talent too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Catherine, was that book Top Spin by Eliot Berry? One of my favorite books. I met Eliot shortly before he passed. Great tennis writer, that book is a masterpiece. A main figure in the book was the junior girl Anna B something, a Polish girl from US who did not make it as a pro but was a star junior.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:27 am

    I hit with a 12 year old girl sometimes, she just played Super Six USTA tournament and won the first set and her parents told me the other parent was coaching the whole match, he would get warned and stop and when the roving official left, he would just start again, doing big arm motions clearly to distract. The girl watched him and imitated his arm moves. Also the girl when losing would fall on the court and cry and do all these drama actions, this all distracted her and she lost the second set and the match tiebreak. All the drama and distraction clearly distracted this girl, even if just a fraction that’s all it takes. But they were wildly doing drama, acting, fake crying, suffering, father coaching like a madman. I said you have to stay focused and not pay attention to all this drama, pretend they are faking and doing it to bother you. But it’s hard for a nice girl just 12 to be a killer and focused to block all that out from the opponent and the father. This girl is really nice too, she will say good shot to any good shot her opponent hits. One parent of a girl she beat came up and said to her she is the nicest girl they ever played. Tough sport. The better player does not always win.

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