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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 02:34 PM   #121
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

Here's the thing: even if it IS a somewhat crappy & depressing 25K held in the parking lot of some old WWII German airplane-hangar, bring some mental fortitude to the courts, Mirjana.

You entered the event. You paid to travel here, stay a few nights in a hotel. Practiced on a court with planks.

It's not as if the amazing tennis she displayed in Doha was four years ago. It was just over a month ago.

She's the No. 2 seed. With her strength and skill, there's no reason to lose to a scrub in your opening match. All she needs to do is move her feet with some speed and play percentage tennis against a girl like Kerkhove. Plain & simple.

Every match counts in preparation for Paris. Every match counts, PERIOD, just for points and confidence, at this stage.

I thought she would be fighting harder than ever for a big breakthrough down this stretch, particularly. She knows she can play amazing tennis. She has an excellent coach she trusts and who firmly believes in her. She's supremely fit. She should be hungry for every encounter. Excited by her recent results. Even the loss to Keys in Charleston showed she was still playing very solid and world-class ball after the little injury in Doha (which was hardly a setback to derail her momentum).

It seems like she's giving up. And if this is the best she can summon as a pro, maybe that's a wise idea.

And, yes, if she doesn't crank-up the doubles efforts, she will spiral out of the doubles Top 100 very quickly.

My guess is that she will move on to play in much more pleasant conditions in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, perhaps doubles in Rome, and then qualifying in Strasbourg. Hopefully with doubles at all three.

Still, she could have given this ramshackle 25K a better effort. But how many times have we said this in the Kingdom of Miki-Fandom? Too many to count. As a Top 100 player (who has been consistently playing Top 70 tennis this year -- just scheduling poorly) results like this discredit her overall respectable comeback story.

She's a seasoned pro and knows what it takes to win out there, to grind. She may very well be tired of striving and scoring only the occasional upset as a reward for such hard work off the court. If that's the case, her situation is more than understandable.

Make the full decision to become a doubles specialist very soon, Miki. If Liezel Huber can become a doubles stalwart, you certainly can. And that would allow you to play for two or three more years and maybe win a Grand Slam title. Imagine that.

But I think she'll retire after the US Open. Call it a hunch. She's got a whole "other" life she could be living full-time, which most of these girls do not necessarily have.

W for Wiesbaden. W for Waterloo. Miki's? We'll soon see.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 03:53 PM   #122
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

Yeah, so she's playing Cagnes-sur-Mer next week, then I'm assuming she has entered at least doubles in Rome (and is on the alt-list for quallies) the following week, and is on the Strasbourg Q-list at No. 13 the week before Paris.

Boy, she REALLY needs to get her crap together ... fast. With lackluster play like today, she could lose first round every single place and it would not surprise me in the least.

Put your Big Girl Pants on, Miki. For real. Even two lousy wins in Cagnes (she'll be a Top 8 seed), two crappy wins in Strasbourg, and one measly main draw win in Paris would turn your YEAR around. Back in Top 90 or close.

Someone get this girl a clue.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 06:23 PM   #123
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by markdelaney View Post
She'll never change. Same game plan for every match. All she can do is turn up for the next one and maybe the ball will go over the net and land inside the baseline.
She is unfortunately frozen in the middle of her development as a tennis player and stuck there. So yeah not one millimeter did she developed since her come back, the same things again and again, the same errors, the same mistakes...very sad and painful to watch. On the other hand we should be lucky to be able to see her playing on court after all what happened, results are not so important.
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Old May 1st, 2014, 05:12 AM   #124
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by kuroishijin View Post
She is unfortunately frozen in the middle of her development as a tennis player and stuck there. So yeah not one millimeter did she developed since her come back, the same things again and again, the same errors, the same mistakes...very sad and painful to watch. On the other hand we should be lucky to be able to see her playing on court after all what happened, results are not so important.
I agree with most everything you said, especially about how it's great that we have seen her out there competing on the world stage again after years away from tennis, all her previous troubles, etc. That she has won 3 ITF events and essentially remained a Top 100 player (or right at the edge of the Top 100) for almost five consecutive years is a success-story that deserves immense respect, and her resurgence into the doubles Top 40, reaching a Wimbledon quarterfinal, is also quite inspiring.

But I don't agree that her game has failed to improve at all. I absolutely saw improved technique and strategy and movement on her part since she started working with Prpic. He taught her how to use her weapons more effectively. But he did not help her overcome her self-imploding attitude out there. So, mentally, I would say you are correct: she has not improved one millimeter mentally. She fixates on her mistakes and uses her emotional energy in very counterproductive ways on court. She is a beautiful player to watch, but her mental game lacks poise.

If only there were some way for her to overcome the mental hurdles. A big step forward would be for her to just play high-percentage tennis, all the time. Hit as hard as she wants, but play high-percentage. Constantly. If she did, a certain amount of these errors she obsesses about would statistically decrease and she would be beating the Kerkhoves of the world and her confidence, day to day, would improve.

Sure, to beat the bigger players she would have to take some of her low-% risks (down-the-line drives, aces-down-the-tee, etc.) but even against the best, high-percentage tennis would allow her power to open up the court so that her low-%age openings would have a higher potential for success when she goes for them.

But it's pointless to discuss these things anymore. I'm not her coach. No one is her coach but her own mind and Prpic, and she lets her emotions take her down and her impatience ruin her chances and, frankly, episodes like the weird double-bagel set against Siniakova in Stuttgart and this chumpy 2 and 4 loss to Kerkhove in the 1st round of a 25K in Wiesbaden smells not only of impatience and poor attitude, but also of lack of motivation.

But someone like me could certainly be wrong. I'm not out there playing the matches. Lucic is. Maybe she's giving it 100% every time and she just sucks.

But I don't think so. I think she is a very gifted tennis player with a serious "focus problem."

Time may have run out for her to correct it on a regular basis. But she is not alone ... the world is full of pros with "focus problems." And players who overcome those focus problems, too.

I just always thought she would be one of the ones who overcame that deficiency.
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Old May 1st, 2014, 08:24 AM   #125
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

Maybe she can get it back together in next weeks.

She always plays good in France, even last year she won a challenger.
And in next weeks she plays 3 tournaments in France and Rome(where she made SF almost 20 years ago).

And then GRASS
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 11:19 AM   #126
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

I think she often plays upredictably in ITFs. Remember the loss last fall to that Asian girl in Albequerque. Horrendous, then just a few weeks later she wins an ITF indoors. Also, she lost in Osprey 1 and 2 last year, then went on a tear a few weeks later at Stuttgardt. This was her first match on red clay this year (outdoors anyway). I think she'll get better. Remember when she lost in the first round on grass to Melanie South. Then, two weeks later she beats Marion Bartoli. I wouldn't worry too much. If she starts losing in straight sets on grass on a regular basis, then we'll know she's done. I'm looking forward to the grass season as this very well could be her last on the WTA tour
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 04:40 PM   #127
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by SERVivor View Post
I think she often plays upredictably in ITFs. Remember the loss last fall to that Asian girl in Albequerque. Horrendous, then just a few weeks later she wins an ITF indoors. Also, she lost in Osprey 1 and 2 last year, then went on a tear a few weeks later at Stuttgardt. This was her first match on red clay this year (outdoors anyway). I think she'll get better. Remember when she lost in the first round on grass to Melanie South. Then, two weeks later she beats Marion Bartoli. I wouldn't worry too much. If she starts losing in straight sets on grass on a regular basis, then we'll know she's done. I'm looking forward to the grass season as this very well could be her last on the WTA tour
All true. True true true.

Aye yi yi -- the loss to that Asian kid who looked like a high school-level player out for a Sunday hit in the park was indeed the worst I have ever seen anyone play tennis, ever, at the pro level. A real eye-bleeder.

I just thought she would be keen to "step things up" in these interval periods where she can accrue some much-needed points in relatively low-rent events -- intervals or stretches where she's not defending any points at all, and stands to gain some ground and make life easier on herself in the long run.

I mean, in losses like the ones mentioned (and lately to Siniakova and Kerkhove) her focus is just not there, clearly. I don't know where it is, but it isn't on the court, and this sort of thing is the big "black mark" on her comeback -- this kind of week-in, week-out mental inconsistency.

If (in the past four years) she were even able to just live-up to her seeding semi-regularly in events (WTA quallies, ITFs) and win, say, 10 main-draw WTA matches per year, along with two or maybe three Grand Slam main draw rounds, she would have been ranked in the 50s if not perhaps even a bit better. That would have meant more direct acceptances in more tour events and more chances to play the big girls she gets so inspired against.

I thought Prpic would help correct the serious week-in, week-out mental inconsistency that has, all along, been the real impediment to Mirjana properly repositioning herself in the main mix on tour. He certainly helped her technically/strategically with a few things.

I'm not saying she would ever have won an entire WTA event, at this point (at least not an important one) but, with her physical and technical gifts & advantages, she could have been "in the weekly conversation" at the WTA-level, along with the Muguruzas and Cepelovas and Lepchenkos and Wickmayers and Jovanovskis and Robsons and Garcias and so-forth.

She has intensity (if often misdirected upon herself in a negative way). She has loads of natural talent. She is a clearly intelligent and well-spoken human being -- probably much more so than 90% of the other girls on tour.

But she is simply one of those athletes who tightens-up, nerve-wise, when the time comes to convert the many, many, MANY opportunities her great power & skills almost automatically create for her, or which other players' deficiencies present to her on a silver platter in the course of so many matches. Her poor footwork is directly related to her nerve-issues, too. Miki's not a speed-demon, but she's not a sloth, either. When she gets mentally tight her feet freeze and that is particularly disastrous for her style of game. Her other big issue is staying focused from week-to-week.

There's no shame or crime in any of these things. This is sport. And when she's clicking, she has achieved (and may yet achieve) some wins that she will be able to relive and enjoy and tell her kids and grandkids about, long after she's retired.

Plus, she's done a lot better these last five years than hundreds of other hopefuls on the tour, to say nothing of the brief stardom she attained via her accomplishments as a teen: two WTA titles (including the first she ever entered!), a Grand Slam doubles championship crown, a stellar junior career marked by Grand Slam singles crowns, etc.

But instead of writing her epitaph, here (I realize than any of my posts are likely tedious enough), I also hope for at least one more flash of sustained excellence, before she hangs it up. At this point, I really think that just one more remarkable run ANYWHERE (at the WTA-level and above) would put a genuinely worthy capstone on her career. The needed "finishing touch." It would thrill her fans and I think it would allow her to move onward with a great deal of satisfaction, bittersweet though it might be.

It could be a run similar to her Wimbledon 2012 experience, or another Doha, or maybe even a minor WTA semifinal or just a huge, high-profile win over someone right at the top (a Sharapova or a Serena or an Agnieska or Azarenka). Obviously, we'd love to see it at a Grand Slam. A round of 16 therein would be total triumph.

She totally has the capability to put-together a performance like that at one event. She's one of the fittest players on tour. She has experience on her side, when in the driver's seat. She can outhit a great many opponents, with the right draw and stars aligned.

And I hope she gets just one more shining moment.

I do frankly think this will be her last season, unless she commits to a full-time doubles career to the exclusion of singles ... which I doubt she'll do. Lady has a fabulous off-court life to lead, and it would be interesting to see her work with tennis media. I mean, if Tennis Channel wants to really take off it needs to broaden its own horizons and I think a Mirjana cooking show, like the one Ajmo mentioned or somebody mentioned, would be a TOTAL asset to the programming. Maybe even a reality series featuring other beautiful retired tour mavens: "Desperate Housewives of Sarasota" (just kidding).

She has already crafted a respectable comeback and reinvented herself as a world-class professional athlete. She has loads of potential for post-tour success, too.

Good luck, ML-B ... your "great week" can happen ANY week, if not every week.

~aufwiedersein~
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 06:45 PM   #128
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

Since we're dissecting Mirjana's career for a zillionth time, allow me to chime in.

There is an idea which struck me the other day, brought up by her latest achievements. And this idea suggests that maybe she is using these 25k (and the like) events solely as some form of practice sessions. I know it's far-fetched, but here's where my pondering has brought me - stay tuned.

She might be thinking that she is already on the road and has to pay some sort of accomodation one way or another, so why not sign-up on some small event relatively close to the next major one on her schedule, where she can play with low (or no) pressure and try new ideas or tactics out. If it happens that she wins a match or two playing these events, all the better, at least she goes away with some extra money and points. If she bombs out playing like she's lost all her marbles (i.e. in a typical MikiLu fashion), not much harm done. Yes, I realize this sounds like something straight out of a tennis sci-fi novel, but it's the most reasonable and logical thing I could've come up with to justify some of her losses and make sense in the totally senseless.

As for her overcoming her tennis problems, I think we all know there's only one culprit, and which one it is. The reason for her deciding against asking for help of sports psychologist, can in my opinion be seen as her thinking one of these two things - she either doesn't believe it would help or she doesn't believe that she needs it (in which case she is suffering from epic dellusions).

I am still - and repeatedly so - puzzled by some aspects of her mental frame and frailty. It's as if she is not aware of her own career accomplishments; either that, or she doesn't consider them overly impressive, whch I doubt. When watching her play, you get a sense that she is too easily intimidated, sometimes even by random 16 or 17 year-olds, as if she is not the one who played semifinals of Wimbledon and lifted the doubles title in Melbourne. Something like that can't happen to a player like Serena (I know it's a totally overblown comparisson, but hear me out).

Serena comes out looking like a Roman gladiator about to tackle a lion more than a modern-day tennis player, and this gets the job done. She has attitude on court, and the right one at that. People can call her classless, resent her lacking basic manners and God knows what else, but she gets the job done, and that's what a player is suppose to do out on court. That's why they're playing the game in the first place.

Mirjana on the other hand, always finds one and the same enemy on court - herself. She is cursing herself, she is insulting herself, she is putting herself down in every way possible when things are going the wrong way. Instead, she should be (in my not so humble, amateur psychoanalyst opinion) taking what I call the political system strategy - finding an outer enemy to negate the importance and/or influence of the inner one. You can consider your opponent or even the tennis ball your worst enemy and project your anger and frustration onto them by forcing them, in a matter of speaking, to work in your favor - the worst thing you can do is direct all that negativity onto yourself.

I understand that her confidence, self-image and the sense of worth might be seriously impaired as the result of parental abuse, but there are ways to overcome these problems or at least try to keep them under control for a given period of time. Tennis is a mind game as much as it is a technical skill, and Mirjana should've really done more on growing her confidence, because her mannerisms, body language and not to mention the oral language presented numerous times on court, all speak much more of the state of her self-respect than her smiling photos from player's parties. Apology for being brutally frank, but that's just how I operate.

As for expectations, I have learned a long time ago that it's best not to have any when you're following The misadventures of the blond tennis babe (and yes, I just realized how pornographic that sounds), so I take every success as it comes, as if it's her last one - cause you never know, it might just be. She is still not too old to be playing professional tennis, but it's certainly too late to be expecting major changes in either her game or her approach to it. I'm not giving into fantasies of her finally realizing that there might be solutions for some of her problems, cause if it hasn't happened by now it most probably never will no matter how much we continue to type our fingers off about it. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't listen to us even if we'd tell it to her face, she is just too stubborn of a person to take much of anyone's advice and has admitted so herself. For what it's worth it was a nice career, why spoil it all now with regrets.

So here's hoping she enjoys some more of the good life on the crazy tennis caravan and takes us along for the ride. As ludicrous as this thought might sound at times
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 07:05 PM   #129
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

I hate the person that uploaded and then deleted her win against Bartoli.

I meantime, look how this girl used to play tie breaks..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCXD16m3Kfs

And then make a comperison to her recent tb results. Against Majeric lost 8-6 in third set, Keys 7-0 and 7-3 I think.. Than in doubles 10-3, and again doubles 10-5
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 07:28 PM   #130
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

But lets look at number just to see how ''crazy'' her results are:

I'll go from start of 2013 to today:

5 best wins:
Stuttgart: Vesnina 6-0 6-4
Doha: Pavljuchenkova 6-4 6-1
Birmingham: Wickmayer 6-4 6-0
Charleston: Oprandi 4-6 6-1 6-3
Indian Wells: Voegele 6-7 6-3 6-3

Other big wins:
Indian Wells: Parmentier 7-5 6-3
Stuttgart: Zahlavova S. 6-1 3-6 7-5
Stuttgart: Meusburger 6-3 4-6 6-2
Stuttgart: Peer 6-3 6-1
Wimbledon: Arvidsson 6-1 6-4
Palermo: D.Marino 6-3 6-2
Quebec: Fichman 6-4 6-0
Sydney: Date Krumm 2-6 6-3 6-2
Doha: Meusburger 4-6 6-2 6-3

5 worst losses(by a ranking of players she lost to):
1) ITF Albuquerque: Hsu(272) 4-6 3-6
2) Eastbourne: Gabriela Dabrowski(247) 5-7 6-4 1-6
3) US Open: Vickery(238) 4-6 4-6
3) Brisbane: Gajdosova(238) 6-4 4-6 4-6
5) ITF Las Vegas: Simmonds(167) 6-2 1-6 2-6
*Kerkhove not included

10 other painfull lossed:
1) Wimbledon: Suarez 6-1 3-6 3-6
2) Birmingham: Lisicki 5-7 6-2 4-6
3) Indian Wells: Wickmayer 6-3 3-6 2-6
4) Stuttgart: Siniakova 0-6 6-2 0-6
5) Midland: Burdette 4-6 6-4 4-6
6) Quebec City: Safarova 6-7 6-7
7) Miami: Majeric 6-1 1-6 6-7
8) Sydney: Cepelova 5-7 6-3 6-7
9) Osprey: Sirotkina 2-6 1-6
10)Australian Open: Safarova 6-7 4-6
*Doha ret. agains Aga not included


Bottom line, she's all over the place. Last year her first match on outdoor clay was also a disaster(losing 1-6 2-6 to Sirotkina), next week she def. Oprandi. Then she was losing a lot on clay until grass season. But even on grass she lost to Dabrowski.

DOha was a huge set back, who knows where would she be today if that netcord on a bp didn't happen (and injury). Maybe she would be Doha champion.
But it did happen, and we need to get over it. She needs to get over it.
Maybe next week she'll be back with real tennis. But don't ever get your hopes up
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Old May 4th, 2014, 06:13 AM   #131
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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... She might be thinking that she is already on the road and has to pay some sort of accomodation one way or another, so why not sign-up on some small event relatively close to the next major one on her schedule, where she can play with low (or no) pressure and try new ideas or tactics out. If it happens that she wins a match or two playing these events, all the better, at least she goes away with some extra money and points. If she bombs out playing like she's lost all her marbles (i.e. in a typical MikiLu fashion), not much harm done. Yes, I realize this sounds like something straight out of a tennis sci-fi novel, but it's the most reasonable and logical thing I could've come up with to justify some of her losses and make sense in the totally senseless.

As for her overcoming her tennis problems, I think we all know there's only one culprit, and which one it is. The reason for her deciding against asking for help of sports psychologist, can in my opinion be seen as her thinking one of these two things - she either doesn't believe it would help or she doesn't believe that she needs it (in which case she is suffering from epic dellusions). ...
Interesting theory, but I dunno. For a player like Mirjana who is always popping "just inside" or dropping "just outside" the Top 100, the ITF/Challenger events are too important to be taken lightly, not when they are your only source of much-needed ranking points for the week, or maybe the means of securing a draw entry in a future tour-level event you hope to enter. These girls are more obsessed and keenly aware of the "points merry-go-round" than even the statistician fans are.

But your other observations dovetail significantly with this issue of Lucic and her performance at Challenger-type events. Namely, it is a matter of pride and pedigree. Quite frankly, I think Lucic (whether its even at the top of her mind or not) thinks a lot of these events are simply beneath her and she ends up underperforming.

Who can blame her? When you started out as a player groomed by coaches and entire agencies for stardom, and you were constantly being told, "You are the next Steffi Graf," (by Steffi Graf herself, no less!) and "You are the next winner of multiple Grand Slams," and "You are the next No. 1" and "You are a rare talent," and "You are such and such," and then you actually are fulfilling that hype (winning WTA titles, winning a Slam doubles title with the world No. 1, reaching Wimbledon semifinals, etc.) and staying in the best hotels and being followed by the media and getting endorsements and hearing more and believing more ... well, when all that happens, Court 3 with the planks on it at Wiesbaden (or wherever) looks pretty uninspiring. Depressing.

There's no way that entering these Challenger events do not affect a player of Lucic's particular history and pride-level. No way. Especially at the 25K level, everything about these types of events --the surroundings, the shitty facilities, the bad officiating, the lousy scheduling, the cheap accommodations, the lack of staff, the bush league gamesmanship-- EVERYTHING about these sorts of events is basically front-and-center to remind a once-great and once-celebrated player that they are not so great and not so celebrated anymore.

If these events did not somehow get under Mirjana's skin, she would not be human. And she is prideful and stubborn and does believe she belongs with the best. That belief has kept her striving and working so hard the past five years. That's why I think the comparison with Serena is not far-fetched, in context, and needed no reluctance or qualification.

Lucic and Serena are the same age, and what was being said about Serena when she was up-and-coming was likewise being said of Lucic, who was at first even more successful (on paper) than Serena. Lucic was a teen whose pride was being built-up and whose expectations were being built-up the same way that Serena's were being fortified, and by the same suits in the industry, too. How true it all must have felt for Mirjana when, the first and only time she ever played Serena, she very nearly beat her.

It's to Mirjana's credit that she even slogged her way through two years of nothing BUT challengers just to get her ranking in shape and her game in order, but even then, her own words reveal that it was not a pleasant experience. After she broke through to qualify for the 2010 US Open and then beat Molik in the first round, she had a newsroom full of reporters interested in her for the first time in years, and she didn't mince words about her experience in the bush leagues:


You know, when I say I've been working hard, I mean, also playing $25,000 tournaments, quallies of every small tournament there is, and losing a lot of times. It was really hard. It felt like I climbed the mountain just to get through those tournaments, so I feel really good now.

So, like any proud and gifted player with a past like hers, there is a clear note of disdain for these rinky-dink events, and I'm not surprised she may rue having to play them, given that she has certain issues with nerves even for the tour-level events. I'm just amazed that, since she IS playing them, why doesn't she take the negativity out on the other players, as you mentioned, and just really hammer these scrub-girls. Get really mean and show off her stuff?

But again, it's sport, and its psychological, and Mirjana's refusal to see a sports shrink (if indeed she has refused to see one; we do not know) reminds me of Monica Seles who, with all due respect, let her own mental dramas and emotional issues get in the way of regaining her trademark killer instinct after coming back to tennis after her horrific attack. She was not only overweight, she was missing that extra little bit of closing mentality on court. People asked her if she would see a sports psychologist to get over her playing "issues" and Seles flat-out said, very proudly, that she would never do such a thing, because she didn't believe in it. Naturally, a great champion like Seles would be offended at the very suggestion her once-indomitable mind needed work.

And of course, even a tubby Seles playing at 75 or 80% of her capacity was still good enough to win many, many more tournaments and beat all the top players around her ... but she was never her old self again, tennis-wise.

Then she quit tennis and got skinny as a rail. Go figure.

Miki's journey, however it plays out from here, as a tennis player, will likely be more of what we have already seen.

But we have seen flashes of brilliance already, and it would be great to see one more. At least one more.

Yet, there is also the mental fatigue factor, even if she is physically very fit: it must be very, very mentally tiring going two steps forward and ten steps back ALL THE TIME. She's not getting ahead. And one wonders how much more can be extracted, reasonably, from the coaching partnership with Prpic. Doha and maybe the 50K title last year were the only breakthroughs, results-wise, that I see in singles. In doubles, that's a different story, but she has to be looking at the relationship with Prpic and thinking, "Wow, what better coach am I ever going to get, who knows me and my game better? And I'm still hovering around #100 all the time."

Naturally, she might have already fallen far off the map without Prpic, too ... so, it's complicated. Tennis is such a head-crushing sport it's hard to watch the struggles of our favorite players, sometimes.

But there is a reason we remain interested in Lucic and that reason is because, despite her erratic performances and questionable self-attitude and mediocre ranking, she has a great back-story, she IS still immensely talented, to this very day, and she is a stunning player to watch when she is in form, and she is a dramatic player, and more than anything else, she is the kind of veteran star who still has the ability, on the right day or set of days, to absolutely wipe-out a whole bunch of major opponents. And the people who know that about her (that would be all of us) know that this can happen and we want to be around if and when it does.

So we wait. And it's fun to talk tennis while we wait, for my part, anyhow.

Honestly, if she can finish the season in the Top 100 and just one more sweet result, I think that would be a great time to say, "Goodbye. I did my best and had a great time and will always be proud of coming back to world-class competition."

That or commit to two more years of top-level doubles, if she can. But I think she's done if she doesn't get another significant result this season.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 03:03 PM   #132
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by ajmo! View Post
I meantime, look how this girl used to play tie breaks..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCXD16m3Kfs
I totally get you, a joy to watch, but a totally bitter-sweet experience as well, one has to admit.

Sometimes I wonder where did this girl go, the one playing tennis in this video. When I watch her today, she doesn't just look older or fitter (which is a strange combo in itself), but as much as I hate to say it, she looks like someone who doesn't really enjoy tennis anymore. The kid in the footage looks like someone who craves tennis, who lives for it and who is excited about every upcoming match. Mirjana of today looks like tennis is a job that she for some reason has to do, but doesn't really want to. I might be totally wrong on this, but that's just my impression (more often than not) when I watch her matches.

This girl in the video is not afraid to play the way she wants to, and is doing marvelous things with a smile on her face. I understand that being at peak form has a lot to do with it, but still, that's not something you see often in tennis nowadays generally. I wonder what changed for her. I know all about the personal journey of Mirjana Lucic, but I wonder what happened on the inside, between this period of her career and her comeback in 2007, cause it must've been a really terrible experience, judging by how much it has transformed her. But the worst part in it all is that she experienced her greatest professional joy, while going through the worst personal drama. She often spoke of abuse, of beatings, and as terrible as it is to say it, this was her added motivation (of the worst possible kind) back in the days of glory.

But when it comes to these sorts of performances, I wonder if there's still this fire somewhere in her, and if there is a way to bring it to the surface. Cause it would help her immensely to realize that she doesn't have to make it painful or bitter, but actually play it for the enjoyment. I really hope that she is not going through all of this only to prove to someone (her father, namely) that she can achieve something on her own, cause that would be the craziest reason to stick by through a journey to hell and back of challenger-level professional tennis. I really don't think anyone even remotely sane would put themselves through that willingly, with no other reason involved.

Who knows, maybe we're still about to see the best match of her life, cause with Miki Lucic there's not much that can surprise you. She's always been the flashes of brilliance type of player, so you never know when will she have her next one. I just hope we'll see at least one more of her inspired, out-of-this-world performances on some big stage such as the one against Monica, and see that wide smile at the end of it. That would be a really cool way to say goodbye.

But before that happens, let's try to take out Alize Lim, who awaits in the first round of Cagnes-Sur-Mer. If she manages to wrap her head around the idea of taking out world #143, she might actually get to play someone challenging, most probably the second seeded Romina Oprandi. But as we know by now...a step at a time.

Good luck Miki
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Old May 4th, 2014, 03:03 PM   #133
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

La Miki's draw in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Not even seeded! I think Oprandi did really well last week on clay, too.

Not expecting much at all, but one never knows. No doubles.


(7)Magda Linette (POL) v Maryna Zanevska (UKR)
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) v (wc)Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) v Alize Lim (FRA)
(2)Romina Oprandi (SUI) v Mathilde Johansson (FRA)
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Old May 4th, 2014, 10:11 PM   #134
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by mikireturns View Post
Interesting theory, but I dunno. For a player like Mirjana who is always popping "just inside" or dropping "just outside" the Top 100, the ITF/Challenger events are too important to be taken lightly, not when they are your only source of much-needed ranking points for the week, or maybe the means of securing a draw entry in a future tour-level event you hope to enter. These girls are more obsessed and keenly aware of the "points merry-go-round" than even the statistician fans are.

But your other observations dovetail significantly with this issue of Lucic and her performance at Challenger-type events. Namely, it is a matter of pride and pedigree. Quite frankly, I think Lucic (whether its even at the top of her mind or not) thinks a lot of these events are simply beneath her and she ends up underperforming.

Who can blame her? When you started out as a player groomed by coaches and entire agencies for stardom, and you were constantly being told, "You are the next Steffi Graf," (by Steffi Graf herself, no less!) and "You are the next winner of multiple Grand Slams," and "You are the next No. 1" and "You are a rare talent," and "You are such and such," and then you actually are fulfilling that hype (winning WTA titles, winning a Slam doubles title with the world No. 1, reaching Wimbledon semifinals, etc.) and staying in the best hotels and being followed by the media and getting endorsements and hearing more and believing more ... well, when all that happens, Court 3 with the planks on it at Wiesbaden (or wherever) looks pretty uninspiring. Depressing.

There's no way that entering these Challenger events do not affect a player of Lucic's particular history and pride-level. No way. Especially at the 25K level, everything about these types of events --the surroundings, the shitty facilities, the bad officiating, the lousy scheduling, the cheap accommodations, the lack of staff, the bush league gamesmanship-- EVERYTHING about these sorts of events is basically front-and-center to remind a once-great and once-celebrated player that they are not so great and not so celebrated anymore.

If these events did not somehow get under Mirjana's skin, she would not be human. And she is prideful and stubborn and does believe she belongs with the best. That belief has kept her striving and working so hard the past five years. That's why I think the comparison with Serena is not far-fetched, in context, and needed no reluctance or qualification.

Lucic and Serena are the same age, and what was being said about Serena when she was up-and-coming was likewise being said of Lucic, who was at first even more successful (on paper) than Serena. Lucic was a teen whose pride was being built-up and whose expectations were being built-up the same way that Serena's were being fortified, and by the same suits in the industry, too. How true it all must have felt for Mirjana when, the first and only time she ever played Serena, she very nearly beat her.

It's to Mirjana's credit that she even slogged her way through two years of nothing BUT challengers just to get her ranking in shape and her game in order, but even then, her own words reveal that it was not a pleasant experience. After she broke through to qualify for the 2010 US Open and then beat Molik in the first round, she had a newsroom full of reporters interested in her for the first time in years, and she didn't mince words about her experience in the bush leagues:


You know, when I say I've been working hard, I mean, also playing $25,000 tournaments, quallies of every small tournament there is, and losing a lot of times. It was really hard. It felt like I climbed the mountain just to get through those tournaments, so I feel really good now.

So, like any proud and gifted player with a past like hers, there is a clear note of disdain for these rinky-dink events, and I'm not surprised she may rue having to play them, given that she has certain issues with nerves even for the tour-level events. I'm just amazed that, since she IS playing them, why doesn't she take the negativity out on the other players, as you mentioned, and just really hammer these scrub-girls. Get really mean and show off her stuff?

But again, it's sport, and its psychological, and Mirjana's refusal to see a sports shrink (if indeed she has refused to see one; we do not know) reminds me of Monica Seles who, with all due respect, let her own mental dramas and emotional issues get in the way of regaining her trademark killer instinct after coming back to tennis after her horrific attack. She was not only overweight, she was missing that extra little bit of closing mentality on court. People asked her if she would see a sports psychologist to get over her playing "issues" and Seles flat-out said, very proudly, that she would never do such a thing, because she didn't believe in it. Naturally, a great champion like Seles would be offended at the very suggestion her once-indomitable mind needed work.

And of course, even a tubby Seles playing at 75 or 80% of her capacity was still good enough to win many, many more tournaments and beat all the top players around her ... but she was never her old self again, tennis-wise.

Then she quit tennis and got skinny as a rail. Go figure.

Miki's journey, however it plays out from here, as a tennis player, will likely be more of what we have already seen.

But we have seen flashes of brilliance already, and it would be great to see one more. At least one more.

Yet, there is also the mental fatigue factor, even if she is physically very fit: it must be very, very mentally tiring going two steps forward and ten steps back ALL THE TIME. She's not getting ahead. And one wonders how much more can be extracted, reasonably, from the coaching partnership with Prpic. Doha and maybe the 50K title last year were the only breakthroughs, results-wise, that I see in singles. In doubles, that's a different story, but she has to be looking at the relationship with Prpic and thinking, "Wow, what better coach am I ever going to get, who knows me and my game better? And I'm still hovering around #100 all the time."

Naturally, she might have already fallen far off the map without Prpic, too ... so, it's complicated. Tennis is such a head-crushing sport it's hard to watch the struggles of our favorite players, sometimes.

But there is a reason we remain interested in Lucic and that reason is because, despite her erratic performances and questionable self-attitude and mediocre ranking, she has a great back-story, she IS still immensely talented, to this very day, and she is a stunning player to watch when she is in form, and she is a dramatic player, and more than anything else, she is the kind of veteran star who still has the ability, on the right day or set of days, to absolutely wipe-out a whole bunch of major opponents. And the people who know that about her (that would be all of us) know that this can happen and we want to be around if and when it does.

So we wait. And it's fun to talk tennis while we wait, for my part, anyhow.

Honestly, if she can finish the season in the Top 100 and just one more sweet result, I think that would be a great time to say, "Goodbye. I did my best and had a great time and will always be proud of coming back to world-class competition."

That or commit to two more years of top-level doubles, if she can. But I think she's done if she doesn't get another significant result this season.
Well, if you theory is true about her feeling "she's too good for these crap ITF's" then that makes her initial comeback to the top 100 even more impressive. Cause god knows she had to play a plethora of ITFs (Qualifying even) just to get back to a respectable ranking. She sure swallowed her pride and dug in to achieve what she did. I think Ma Re may be right in that she probably does work on some technical things in these ITFs. But, I don't think that alone can explain how much she sucks in some of these losses. It's probably a combination of things.

Last edited by SERVivor : May 4th, 2014 at 10:20 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2014, 12:53 AM   #135
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Re: Mirjana's Campaign to Conquer Clay in 2014!

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Originally Posted by SERVivor View Post
Well, if you theory is true about her feeling "she's too good for these crap ITF's" then that makes her initial comeback to the top 100 even more impressive. Cause god knows she had to play a plethora of ITFs (Qualifying even) just to get back to a respectable ranking. She sure swallowed her pride and dug in to achieve what she did. I think Ma Re may be right in that she probably does work on some technical things in these ITFs. But, I don't think that alone can explain how much she sucks in some of these losses. It's probably a combination of things.
That's essentially what I said, albeit towards the middle of the dissertation :

It's to Mirjana's credit that she even slogged her way through two years of nothing BUT challengers just to get her ranking in shape and her game in order, but even then, her own words reveal that it was not a pleasant experience. After she broke through to qualify for the 2010 US Open and then beat Molik in the first round, she had a newsroom full of reporters interested in her for the first time in years, and she didn't mince words about her experience in the bush leagues:


You know, when I say I've been working hard, I mean, also playing $25,000 tournaments, quallies of every small tournament there is, and losing a lot of times. It was really hard. It felt like I climbed the mountain just to get through those tournaments, so I feel really good now.

So, like any proud and gifted player with a past like hers, there is a clear note of disdain for these rinky-dink events, and I'm not surprised she may rue having to play them, given that she has certain issues with nerves even for the tour-level events. I'm just amazed that, since she IS playing them, why doesn't she take the negativity out on the other players, as you mentioned, and just really hammer these scrub-girls. Get really mean and show off her stuff
?
________________

I shoulda put it more at the beginning of that particular installment of 2014 Curriculum Miki.

All of our various theories aside, if she "merely" wins a couple matches in Paris and two at Wimbledon and just one at the US Open, she'll have her most successful year in singles since 1999. A sobering thought, but it doesn't really sound like much, does it?
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