View Comments
Bittersweet road leads to Open wildcard
Bojana Bobusic. Picture: Matthew Newton

Fuelled by the recent emotions of one wedding and a funeral, Bojana Bobusic will take little for granted as one of three WA tennis hopefuls in this year’s Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on Monday.

Bobusic felt the twisting emotions of missing her elder brother Strahinja’s Perth wedding last month, except for seeing some highlights of the ceremony via Skype, on the same day she was hitting her way to a wildcard entry into her adopted home’s biggest tennis tournament. But her off-court fortunes took a deeper turn less than a fortnight later.

The Serbian-born 25-year-old had won three matches to qualify for the annual Brisbane International, where she lost a three-set match against world No. 44 Alize Cornet.

After a post-match debrief with coach Rohan Fisher, she then found he had kept secret the sudden death of his father, Alan, the day before so as not to hinder her playing prospects. Fisher’s selfless commitment was not lost on Bobusic, a sociology major from California’s Berkley University who has also started her masters degree in criminal justice at the University of WA.

She hoped to do them both proud despite yesterday drawing Polish No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanskain the first round of the Open.

“We’ve been through a bit these last few weeks, but it’s part of life and it is what it is and you have to deal with it as it comes,” Bobusic told The Weekend West as she prepared for only her second grand slam singles tournament.

“It was hard and it was challenging trying not to think about the wedding and what it meant if I won, but it was obviously more unfortunate what happened with Rohan and his father. He’s a very caring person and that’s probably one of his greatest assets.”

“He really cares about you as a person and a player. Words can’t express how thankful I am for all his help and support.”

Fisher said being told of his father’s death just three hours after Bobusic had qualified at Brisbane, was a bittersweet moment which remained vivid in his mind.

“It was a big day for us and it stood for a lot,” Fisher said, who has had a badly deformed left hand since birth.

“Boj’s result was a pretty special feeling for both of us and so I went from this high as a coach to being on a low as a son within about three or four hours, so it was quite a strange day.

“It’s been an interesting little period for us between Boj missing her brother’s wedding and me with my father so ... it’s probably going to be an Aussie Open we’re both going to remember for a long time in a lot of different ways.

“This is our life and we’ve tried to keep life as normal as we can considering the things that have gone on around us, but

It’s really put in perspective how much it means to her in the sense of what she’s been prepared to miss.

“And for myself, it’s actually kept me in a place ... I don’t think I’ve necessarily dealt with what happened with my dad so much because I don’t have time and I don’t really want to bring that into Boj’s thoughts at the moment.

“Boj is pretty mature even though she’s kind of come on a lot later that some of the other girls and I must admit, she is a pretty special player. I could ask her to do anything and she’d do it tenfold and our relationship and the way we work has probably been good for both of us.

“She is a cracker of a person.”

Bobusic last year weathered two painful occurrences of the painful foot ailment plantar fasciitis after her grand slam singles debut, an ailment which still requires daily management in a training regime including swimming, cycling and boxing.

Bobusic, ranked No. 307 in the world, will earn at least $27,000 if she loses to Radwanska. She will also team with WA’s Jessica Moore in the Open’s doubles draw and play mixed doubles with Chris Guccione. WA’s other hopes rest with Casey Dellacqua, who will play American Madison Keys in the first round, and Matt Ebden, who faces Russian Mikhail Youzhny.