Out in the OPEN

Ali­cia Mo­lik is call­ing the Aus­tralian Open action but doesn’t miss be­ing part of it, writes Erin McWhirter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

ALI­CIA Mo­lik is in a happy place. Since the Aus­tralian ten­nis star quit four months ago there have been no thoughts of a come­back.

The for­mer world No.8 says there is no chance she will join the pro­fes­sional ten­nis cir­cuit again. In­stead, Mo­lik (right) is rel­ish­ing re­tire­ment without the pres­sure of los­ing a tour­na­ment, trav­el­ling the world alone and putting on a brave face when she’s been phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally wrecked.

She main­tains her fit­ness by ex­er­cis­ing at least an hour a day, spends time with her fam­ily in Ade­laide, is ren­o­vat­ing a house and has taken a road trip with a girl­friend down Vic­to­ria’s Great Ocean Rd in re­cent weeks.

‘‘I’m sat­is­fied and have no re­grets. The pres­sure has been lifted,’’ the 27-year-old says. ‘‘It’s a nice feel­ing to be able to have lunch with my mum, have a chat and not have to rush off to train­ing.

‘‘You just know when you are ready for some­thing new and I ded­i­cated my life to ten­nis. I can walk away very happy.

‘‘You don’t need to go back for sec­onds, you just have to be happy with your de­ci­sion.

‘‘When you’re sat­is­fied, you are sat­is­fied and that’s it. I ab­so­lutely won’t be (mak­ing a come­back).’’

Mo­lik’s re­laxed at­ti­tude is in stark con­trast to late 2005 when she was forced from the court in tears with an in­ner-ear ail­ment as she tried to de­fend her crown at Switzer­land’s Zurich Open.

It was the eighth time in nine tour­na­ments she had not passed the first round and the con­di­tion, which had plagued her since March that year, had forced her out of the French Open and Wim­ble­don.

Mo­lik took an ex­tended break but bounced back into the women’s top 100 with an im­pres­sive per­for­mance at the 2007 Aus­tralian Open. She strug­gled last year and nag­ging leg and el­bow prob­lems saw her rank­ing drop. She an­nounced her re­tire­ment on Septem­ber 5.

She said at the time it was not a sad time but an ex­cit­ing one. Sad was when she was in her ho­tel room and had been beaten badly, or when she would switch off her phone for two days be­cause she didn’t want con­tact with any­one af­ter los­ing at the US Open or Wim­ble­don.

‘‘As a player trav­el­ling the world, it can be very lonely,’’ she says. ‘‘For three or four years, I’ve been very good at keep­ing a brave face. It’s been an up­hill bat­tle, it re­ally has, as much phys­i­cally as it has been men­tally and emo­tion­ally.

‘‘In 2005, you could say I was at the pin­na­cle of my ca­reer. I was No.8 in the world, it was the first time I’d cracked the top 10, I’d won an Olympic bronze medal.’’

A stint on Danc­ing with the Stars showed a post-ten­nis ca­reer as a hoofer wasn’t an op­tion. She and dance part­ner John-Paul Collins were the third cou­ple elim­i­nated from the show’s fourth sea­son af­ter a per­for­mance that in­cluded trip­ping on the hem of her dress.

She’s no Gin­ger Rogers, then, but all of that ten­nis ex­pe­ri­ence makes her per­fect as part of Seven’s com­men­tary team for the Aus­tralian Open.

SHE has been used for spe­cial com­ments once be­fore, in the sum­mer of 2005. ‘‘It was fun last time, but I had to bite my tongue be­cause I had to share the locker room with the girls a cou­ple of weeks later,’’ she says.

‘‘Be­cause I’m re­tired, maybe I can have a more ob­jec­tive view or more opin­ions.’’

She is tip­ping for­mer world No.1 Roger Fed­erer to win the men’s event and ei­ther Ser­ena or Venus Wil­liams for the women’s.

‘‘The last time I was among the girls was my last tour­na­ment at the Olympics so it will be good to catch up with a few old mates,’’ she says.

‘‘I love the Wil­liams sis­ters be­cause you never know what you’re go­ing to get. They can put on a show, and that’s what sport’s all about.’’

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