Re: Mirjana's spring 2013 campaign
Biggest improvements I noticed:
She has clearly been working on her service returns. Wow. SOoooooo much more confidence in terms of placing the returns well, offensively, but biggest of all -- she is more explosive in that first step on service returns than I have ever seen her. Her reaction-time is noticeably better, and one has to think she has been working on being more explosive to both get more returns in play and also hit them with frightening accuracy.
And she needed to work in her returns. All last year, looking at her service return stats was like a nightmare. That's why she would need 5,6 break points sometimes to break (if she managed to break) and why she really has so very few "easy" sets against anybody.
Big improvement. Kudos to her and to Prpic, or whomever decided to zero-in on that.
Next: that little hitch in her serve seems to be gone ... Maybe I'm wrong but her serve looks so very much like it did when she was a teen, circa 98-99. She was serving regularly at 107-113 MPH, with a 115 ace and some 117 attempts. Her second serve is clicking with really good placement.
Next: Her focus. Calm. Not being too overwrought out there after every winner she hits, the way she used to be. That can be good at times, but usually drains emotional energy. Moving mentally beyond her errors very nicely. Composure was what allowed her to recapture her form in the final set. Big improvement for Lucic. Her conversion rate on BPs was much much better than we have seen.
Finally: the backhand. It has improved markedly, to my mind, on returns and in general rallies. Maybe just a little touch more whip and topspin than we have seen on it before?
Anyhow, this is why she played so well against Top 20 Safarova (a player who had killed her 2 and 0 the previous time they met) ... and Mirjana had chances to win that match.
The second set was an unfortunate mind-fart tonight, but she really got a grip, overcame her nerves and closed with huge authority.
If she keeps this up, it will be a good year, absolutely.
The Burdette match will be a hitting fest. Mirjana ought to win. GL to her.