She is way too much inconsistent, there is 0 progress in that department since her comeback, we have to accept it, I did at least. Here and there some good results mean nothing if she is able to play on good level only once every few months.
Very true, about the inconsistency, but it's important to remember that she really didn't have much chance to adjust to the different worlds of the Challenger Tour (where you can get 3 or 4 confidence-building wins every tournament) and then the step up to the WTA, where you are automatically going to face big players all the time and maybe win one match here, one match there.
The adjustment is not easy to make for a player ranked around 100, sort of wobbling between the two tours. That is what Mirjana went through in 2010., and she herself has spoken about the very real difficulty of adjustment.
Starting in 2008, she began toiling on the ITF/Challenger circuit, and didn't do so well. It took her awhile to adjust to just playing competitively again.
But by late 2009, she was starting to find her game, and a really big shift occurred in 2010. It must not be forgotten that Mirjana won over 50 matches in 2010, mostly on the Challenger/ITF circuit.
That's a LOT of matches, which indicates that she was truly finding the consistency that had eluded her. She found some, which led to her even winning two ITF events in that season (Jackson and Albuquerque.)
But what it also led to was a chance to try the next level and play a few WTA and Grand Slam draws. We know how well she did at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, qualifying for both. I am convinced that, if she had not drawn Azarenka in R1 at Wimbledon, and instead a lesser player, she was hitting well enough to have won a few matches there. Same goes for the US Open. She won her first Grand Slam main draw match in ages and came very close to pulling an upset against the no.5 seed (Jankovic) in the next round. She followed up that Open with a strong run to the Albuquerque 75k title ... so she kept up her match-tough ways.
The problem is (or was) ... the very next year, she was able to move up to a lot of WTA opportunities because her ranking rose to that 95 - 110 region, where she would be able to enter a lot of WTA qualifying draws, which was fine because she wanted to aim for the WTA level. But, she was sort of "caught between," too. She was seeded higher in the Challenger events, but her eyes were set on the WTA, and for these players, the Challenger events look really lousy if they start getting a regular shot at WTA opportunities (even in quallies.)
That's why 2011 was such an awkward year for Miki. You could tell she was totally less motivated for the Challenger events (results prove it) and suddenly "toiling" in WTA quallies, where the competition was tougher and it was harder to get those two or three match wins a player like her needs EVERY WEEK to feel grooved, like she had been getting regularly in 2010 via the Challengers.
As a result, her overall consistency and confidence suffered. She basically stalled, and her post-2010 career became all about fighting for regular wins in WTA qualifying events, and clearly not summoning a lot of motivation for Challengers when she still played them. Even if she did have a lot of motivation for some Challengers, she was coming off only the occasional win in WTA qualifying, so all the consistency she had acquired in 2010 was by then no longer reliable, week-in, week-out. It was (and has remained) a real "Catch-22" for Mirjana.
She is a "momentum player" if there ever was one. Not just momentum obtained in a single event, but from week to week. After 2010, she was stuck between the two worlds (WTA quallies and Challengers) and never was able to rebuild the kind of consistency that would allow her to do anything more than hold on and linger at the 95 - 115 ranking.
That in itself is remarkable that she stayed there for over four years, but I think it also explains a lot in terms of "why" she just could not generate a breakthrough, i.e. a decent run at one WTA event followed by a good run at another WTA event the next week, followed by a decent run at another WTA event the week after that, and so on. All Mirjana would have needed to reach the next level would have been maybe three halfway decent runs, consecutively, in WTA main draw events (for example, a Doha R16 followed by an international QF followed by maybe another Premier R16) or else one huge run somewhere else, while her ranking was in the 90s and she wasn't defending points.
It was crucial for Miki to have gotten to the next level, and, for her purposes, that "next level" would have been the Top 60, really. She would thereafter have been able to bypass a lot of WTA quallies (or would have made her a higher seed in a lot of WTA quallies) and this obviously would've allowed her to get regular WTA main draw competition, week-in, week-out.
Mirjana did not stall due to lack of trying or fitness. My God,the woman has been one of the hardest working players on tour every year since coming back.
She stalled because for four years she simply has not been able to play as many week-in, week-out singles matches as a player with her big game requires to maintain mental match-toughness, consistency, momentum, etc. Being sort of mired in a kind of "no man's land" (not really a regular WTA main draw player and not really a regular Challenger main draw fixture; more of a WTA Qually Girl) affected her ability to perform consistently in both WTAs and as a high-seed in Challengers.
It really is too bad, but the numbers pretty much tell the story.. 2010 and over 50 matches won (I think) tells a story. I believe she had/has Top 50 (or better) talent, but Mirjana Lucic is a player who needed a lot of matches in one circuit or another to show that, and she was never able to push through just out of the gate in a big WTA or Grand Slam main draw.
If she hadn't gotten injured in Doha, it would have been the biggest advance of her comeback, and she may have gone on to the final. Maybe have won it. If she hadn't blinked against Vinci at Wimbledon in 2012, I believe she would have attained the quarterfinals. Either case, a Top 60 ranking jump would have been hers, and THAT would have been so crucial.
But look at both of those cases: at Doha this year and at Wimbledon in 2012, Miki had to fight all the way up from qualifying to get as far as she managed to get. Pretty revealing.
Maybe, looking back, if she had spent most of 2011 fighting hard in the Challengers instead of so many WTA quallies, she would have maintained her admirable 2010 consistency and gotten her ranking up toward the Top 60 or 70 that way ... and THEN made the primary shift to the WTA tour.
But that's easy to say in hindsight. I'm sure that, when Miki saw her first chances to enter so many WTA-level quallies, she obviously wanted to leap at the chance, and who can blame her.
Looking back, though, that plan may have been detrimental for the long-haul of her comeback hopes.
But I do believe her stasis around the 105-ish ranking for four/five years is the story of a hard-working talent who got stuck between two tours and did not acquire the consistency she particularly needed to demonstrate that she really is/was a much better player than her ranking indicated.
Too late now, in my opinion, but at least she tried and tried and tried and tried. Still a great role model who came back to enjoy a respectable and profitable career as a touring pro. Saw the whole world again. Played on the biggest stages. Many athletes should be so fortunate.
If she were smart right now, she would turn her focus to a big push for an elite doubles career with a steady partner (if such a thing exists any more on the WTA). I agree with ajmo -- she can be Top 20, under the right circumstances.
The big singles dream is over, in my opinion, and I would imagine she knows it.
Still ... I will be cheering her for a career-boosting big result as long as she is out there playing singles.