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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 01:37 AM   #15
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Re: Mirjana's fall 2013 campaign

My guess: she's just plain burned-out from all the many "near-breakthroughs" -- particularly this year. It's got to take a very damaging toll when so many big chokes pile-up on her, and she knows each one cost her a huge boost in the rankings, maybe a Grand Slam quarterfinal, maybe a title at Tour-level, maybe that extra bit of income.

Whether it was choking a *4-2, 30-0 lead against Jankovic in a match she should have won at the 2010 US Open, or the scarring collapse from match point against Medina-Garrigues that would've put her back into the mix, or the blown opps against Vinci last year at SW19, or this year against Lisicki and Suarez and a sweet, sweet sweet US Open draw ... and the gutting flop against Safarova (I mean, big lead first set and FIVE set points blown in the second) ... I think these two successive chump-losses are pretty ominous. If they had come at an earlier juncture in her comeback attempt, it would not be disconcerting.

But this year, for all the money she's made chiefly because of doubles, she has had to fork a lot of that over to Prpic and she is in serious danger of finishing the year ranked lower than she did last year ... without the world-class coach!

Don't care how you slice it: that is not the result you want when you're paying a percentage plus expenses.

I think she only reached one quarterfinal this year, right? And that was at the Midland Challenger. Maybe I'm wrong.

She's had some exhilarating moments the last five years, for sure, but if she can't dial-back the recklessness and just out-rally the Simmondses and Hsus of the world with a 3/4 pace game, a bit of added spin, and some hard-earned experience, *especially* when she is a top seed and much better player and NEEDS the points to secure her berth in the Slam main draws for next year ... then she simply doesn't have the head to be a regular Top 100 player, which, at this point, is probably the only reasonable goal she has a shot of attaining.

It's too damn bad, too, because everyone here knows that no one has worked harder to try and get something special together than Miki. You can see it in her great physical shape and her passion and her deep frustration at the collapses, not to mention her willingness to hire progressively "better" coaches and really put herself on the line.

Earlier this year she was much more focused and putting a LOT more spin on her balls to stay in rallies and get grooved against the Mallory Burdette types and the Voegele types and Meusberger types, etc.

She looked very much like a deer in the headlights, however, when she literally forgot how to even hit a tennis ball against Hsu last week, and today with a clumsy first set, a presumably frantic "winner exhibition" in the second, and then a six-game slide to lose the whole thing after holding serve to start the third ... we all know what happened during those six games.

A trip to Europe this late in the year, along with a possible foray into the Far East is going to be very costly with no game whatsoever to count upon. That's the scary position she has been in so many times: she can't count on her game from week to week to at least live-up (or close) to her seeding at ITF events. Ouch.

I always kept thinking after some of her gobsmackingly dumb losses in the past, "Well, Miki could turn around next week and win an entire event."

That has never happened.

She's one of the most interesting and, in her own way, inspirational regulars on the Tour. My favorite women's player, for sure. I hope she plays as long as she is happy, but she has got to be nearing the end of her patience, all things considered right about now.

Still has a handful of chances to turn it around at the ITFs and surge into the Top 100, but it's frankly a crime that she isn't there already, secure and preparing mentally for next season's work. Every year she's had to claw at the very end just to finish her seasons ranked "close" to the Top 100. She's gotta be sick of it.

Good luck, ol' Miki.
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