Mirjana got into the main draw, and is very very likely to win her 1rd match against a WC (I forgot the name). The RG site was obssesed with her during the qualies (not that I mind, mind you
), and even got an interview out with her. Short but sweet.
Saturday, May 25, 2002
The sun was ever present for the last day of the qualifying tour this Saturday. We know the identity of the 16 men and 16 women who have made it to the main draw, as well as the two men's singles lucky losers. Mirjana Lucic, semi-finalist in Wimbledon in 1999, is amongst the winners.
With a radiant smile and words of abounding enthusiasm, Mirjana Lucic got past the third and last round of the qualifying competition by defeating the Japanese Rika Fujiwara (1/6,6/4,6/2). For a 20 yr. old who discovered glory by reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon three years ago, this result is no big deal. But for a player who has gone through two years of hard times and repetitive injuries, and who shot to world ranking 202 after having been 32nd, this victory represents a new beginning.
"It's incredible. I'm qualified despite the fact that I had a match point against me in the first round", exclaimed Mirjana. " I haven't played this well in a year. The last time was in Roland Garros. In 2001, I was qualified and I lost only in the third round to Capriati. I am so happy. I love this tournament, I love the French public. Just being here makes me feel great. And I found compensation for my efforts here".
With injuries to the left knee and right shoulder in 2000, and then to her right wrist in 2001, Lucic had terribly bad luck. In great shape today, she's in search of lost self-confidence. "I had lots of doubts, lots of first round losses, even in the qualifying rounds, and severe losses in the past year. But I'm well surrounded now. I have two new trainers (one of whom is the former player Mauricio Hadad), an athletic trainer, friends who come with me, and everyone helps me feel good on the court and to concentrate on my tennis. With all my injuries, my past three years have been rather empty. I don't have very much competition behind me, but it's coming back little by little."
Even if she's proven to be on the right track, she doesn't want to advance too quickly. "My goal this year is to get back into the Top 100. But I especially want to play well again. I achieved that here so far. Now I'm looking ahead in the tournament with relative calm. It doesn't matter if I play Justine Henin or someone less strong, nor to play on center court or on the secondary courts. I like Roland Garros, everything is great here. And I feel like winning".
The other winners are less known than the Croat, but they no doubt experienced the same joy of winning-the Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives, the Russians Vera Zvonareva and Maria Goloviznina, the Bulgarian Lubomira Bacheva and the Czech Iveta Benesova. The men include the Argentinean Mariano Puerta (a dangerous clay specialist), the American Robby Ginepri, the French Julien Varlet and Eric Prodon, the Austrian Oliver Marach, the Spaniard Didac Perez, the Italian Giorgio Galimberti and the German Jens Knippshcild. The Italian Stefano Galvani and the Russian Andreï Stoliarov are lucky losers. All hope to follow in the Belgian Filip Dewulf's footsteps, semi-finalist in 1997 and the best qualifier in the tournament's history .
This spells better things in the future. Hope she'll make it...