Re: Mirjana's spring 2013 campaign
Mirjana rather out of shape for that disastrous 02 encounter. I suppose it does lend some perspective on her obvious improvements almost 13 (Yikes!) years later.
She simply needs to keep improving the huge weapons she already possesses -- there is never going to be a "Plan B" for her because, as it has been said, she is not a Plan B kind of player. There is no point for a Plan B, for such a player. And strategically speaking, it really is not rocket science for Mirjana, either. Doesn't need to be. She is a first-strike player -- that is what she is meant to play. She is meant to try for a BIG serve, elicit a short reply, and put the ball away in one, two, or three shots at the very most, point after point. In baseline rallies she must use her power to play the percentages and angles and likewise bring her opponent off-court or force an error or short reply that can become a set-up winner. If she manages to do that, the only "shot selection" Mirjana has to make is: which corner is best to put away the ball? Left or right? Or: Do I have an obvious and really sweet down-the-line opening on either side?
Then she chooses the best percentage, makes her drive, and puts it away. It truly is that straightforward for her. There really is no "point construction" for her, and we should not expect any. She is not Errani or Vinci. If she gets caught in a long rally, she doesn't need to mix it up or plot points ... She just needs to play the percentages as best she can with her (usually superior) power and wait for a short reply to put the ball away. Mirjana does not need to make a lot of complicated choices out there, not with her style.
That is not a discredit to her at all -- that is her brand of tennis. On return games she also has to be super aggressive with those on-the-rise shots and also play the percentages unless she spies and obvious opening or is in prime position for a low-percentage winner.
Her challenge has been maintaining the fitness and focus to execute according to the demands of such a powerful game. The fitness is no longer a problem. Now, she simply needs to keep her composure and be in position to execute while avoiding loss of focus, which is when she utterly goes to hell and, say, hits a forehand down the line into the spectator stands, 20 feet out, from behind her ass, when all she has to do is blast the crosscourt high-percentage drive and either miss or stay in the game, but not look ridiculous due to the fact that she is not concentrating and is out of position.
Otherwise, Mirjana knows how to play the game of tennis. There are little things she can do for defense -- things that she picked-up from a childhood on clay: topspin lobs; drop-shots; slice backhands to stay alive when way off court. But these are peripheral.
With her reach she could add a surprise charge to the net on a good approach every now & then. Also peripheral.
Otherwise, it's all first-strike tennis and being able to execute with reasonably high percentages without losing her concentration. She has improved, surely, but Prpic needs to look for ways to keep her emotions in check out there. Give her a few more breaths before rushing a toss or being tempted to abandon the high percentage shot.
And she does need a freakin' break in a draw. Damn ... If she had met a crap player in Australia, she probably would have been ahead 100 or 160 points by now. She blinked twice against Cepelova (who is now in the quarters, BTW) otherwise she would have at least 200 or so points in the bag, as Ajmo noted. And he's also correct about the fact that being no.82 is not of interest anymore. She wants a big result of some kind.
The right draw, the right frame of mind ... It is going to happen. She simply has to stay VERY vigilant for opportunities in the next few months or else she could free-fall after Wimbledon and the. She might as well kiss it all goodbye (or stick mostly to doubles, if she keeps doing nicely there).
But Mirjana is very much on track for a big result, and I think she knows it, and I think we know it ... unless she meets the top seed in every event from now until W. I mean, Olga freaking Puchkova, for crying out loud. Heading to the QFs and Top 100, here.
If THAT can happen, Mirjana's moment is coming soon. Hope she and Alves stay frosty in the dubs.