Disappointing result but at least it was close and the way she starts each year is usually very rusty !. I cheered myself up by watching the match against Seles from Wimbledon 99. Barely an unforced error, competing in 18 stroke rallies and winning half of them with winners, looking good at the net, making drop shots, serving brilliantly, especially when needed. Her serve is awful now and wipes away any advantage she gets from her returns and keeps the opponent in the match, when they should already be back in the locker room. I'd like her to draw a top player at the Australian open rather than an outside court against someone of similar ranking who will probably beat her 6-4 6-2 after being 2-4 down.
Yes, this was an ugly loss in terms of its "mental momentum" and, yes, it's frustrating for those who have been following her results closely for 3, 4 years (or more), now.
Part of the frustration is that we know (and I daresay she knows) that "the talent is SO there" due to seeing her produce fabulous tennis in her malformed youth, when her game was still in its formative stages.
But we also know it because we see how very often she has been able to put herself into "no-brainer" winning positions against so many players. She'll routinely get big leads that players in the Top 50-70 never let "slide" and that is the difference between a perennial Top 50 tennis "mind" and the head of someone ranked 100-120, like Mirjana.
Another aspect: she's just so powerful and she hits as hard as the biggest hitting girls. You would think she would be "on" a little more often than she is, and take a lot more of these matches against players ranked beneath her, at the very least.
Everyone knows she works so hard -- really in better shape every year than the year before. One would think that this added confidence would enable her to close more of these matches she has set herself up to close.
But mentally, Mirjana is one of those mercurial players -- not really a textbook choker, because she certainly HAS closed-out a lot of matches (easy ones and close ones) the past few years, which is why she's been ranked around 105-ish instead of 275, where someone like Olga Puchkova has been loitering for years (until even Puchkova finally figured it out in the past several months!)
She schedules so poorly, given that she needs matches to really get her wild game grooved. Nothing in her off-season training seems to have given her something new and different to bring to the court, mentally, to get a jump-start on a new season. Whatever reason she missed the $500,000 Shenzhen event (practically a $100-$75K field!), it's a pity she started her season with a missed opportunity ... And followed that up losing a match full of missed opportunities.
But look, even though she imploded here, the match WAS hers, it was very competitive, and this time last year she was getting waxed in straight sets by the likes of Victoria Larriere -- with no winning opportunities.
We can only wait and hope for a better result in Melbourne. She obviously came ready to play, and even ready to win. She only needs one good rout of a solid opponent to get her season on track. Let's hope it comes week after next on the big stage, with a 100-point boost.
GL, Mirjana. Just fight and focus -- that all you owe it to yourself to do.