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A new season, a new thread...

Here's Mirjana's quarter of the draw at the Las Vegas $50K:

Mirjana LUCIC-BARONI (CRO) [3] vs Chanel SIMMONDS (RSA)
Q vs Tereza MRDEZA (CRO)
Melanie OUDIN (USA) vs Petra RAMPRE (SLO)
Allie WILL (USA) (WC) vs Shelby ROGERS (USA) [8]

Good luck!
 

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So similar to her quarter (which ended up being more like her "half") of the draw in Albuquerque. I watched Simmonds play Victoria Duval in qualifying during the US Open and wasn't particularly impressed with either of them. In fact, I was shocked when Duval actually managed to upset Stosur, which was really just a bit more of an implosion than an upset. Both Duval and Simmonds struck me as cautious, youthful pusher-types and neither has a serve to save their lives. Simmonds switched to a bigger frame early in July because she was having trouble coping with power from more experienced players and big hitters, and ... promptly lost a Challenger round to (insert wobbly drum roll) A. Stevenson, who got waxed by Mayo Hibi in the following round.

This young lady, Simmonds, however, is appreciably more pesky off-the-ground than Hsu, which might give Miki more of a chance to find some rhythm, instead of just flying off the handle every on shot without anything to really "play" against, as she appeared to do against Hsu. By rights, she ought to crush Simmonds, but after last week I think I'll just wish her tons of luck, hope she's been practicing madly (and perhaps even meditating) and wish her a hearty "Ajmo!"

(Frankly, I think all it will take is for someone to whisper in her ear: "Ya know, Miki, Sexy Lexy beat this kid 2 and 1 back in July," and that'll scare Miki into a win)
 

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^^ Duval and Simmonds didnt play in NYC. Both qualified. Simmonds took Scheepers to three sets in the first round of main draw.
 

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^^ Duval and Simmonds didnt play in NYC. Both qualified. Simmonds took Scheepers to three sets in the first round of main draw.
Had to scour the memory banks (there might have been beer "involved" during any and all Open watching this year) but, yeah, right you are.

I was confusing Taylor Townsend with Victoria Duval and the thing I couldn't believe most about the Townsend clash with Simmonds was that Simmonds managed to actually win it against an inspired but sadly choking and seriously physically inhibited Townsend, who, bless her heart, was possibly carrying a baby during the match.

[Excursus: Did anyone get a load of TT's coach, Zina Garrison, in the stands during the match? Wonderful Zina looked like she had eaten Brie Whitehead on some focaccia bread with a side of Mayo (Hibi) before the match! Oh. But I digress. Or "excurse," as stated.]

Anyhow, Taylor very nearly put the brakes on Chanel's qualifying run in that match, and ought to have beaten her. I was far more impressed with Taylor, despite her fitness issues, than I was with Simmonds, who is pesky but not powerful, by any shake of the proverbial stick.

Even so, if Simmonds took Scheepers to three sets in the Open main draw (I did not know that, either), then Miki needs to be all over this girl from the start and bring some actual game, to boot. No mucking about.

Thanks for the correction, Rinaldi. I can almost believe that you did indeed attract far more flirtations and steamy lesbitarian romantic overtures than Chris or even that matchstick Carling Bassett, back in the day. Get thee to a commentator's booth. You gots yourself a good memory, thar.
 

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center court stream: http://partyrockopen.com/live-stream/

I know she's not playing on that court today but thought I'd provide the link just in case. Right now Sesil K. is losing and there appears to be not one person watching on the stadium court.
 

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Simmonds is a very good young player, I think she could give Miki trouble...her serve can let her down though.
 

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that's weak. From going neck and neck with Safarova to losing to two mediocre players back to back in two weeks.
 

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Seriously, this is like some circa 2008, $25K, sloppy, batshit-crazy Mirjana-tennis. This is like some spooky "retro-badness" she's bringing out of the attic for nostalgic purposes, so her fans don't forget "the player she was" when she was just launching her comeback 5 yrs. ago.

And A. Stevenson dumps Grace Min in straights. Whoah, dudes.
 

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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. :wavey:
 

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Again loses to lefty. First Safarova, then Hsu and now Simmonds.
Right you are -- I forgot that Simmonds was also a Southpaw.

Still, with the exception of Lucie, who can be said to have truly "beaten" Miki in their heartbreaker match, Hsu and Simmonds could have played with their racquets taped to their left LEGS and Miki still would not have won.

Those two creampuffs didn't beat Miki -- she beat herself.

Hope she finds some new inspiration soon or I can see her easily dropping out of the Top 200 within 8 or 9 months.

It's time to move on from the Prpic Experiment (News Flash: It Hasn't Worked -- she had better results with Jeff Russell in 2010) and retain the basic technical adjustments Prpic quite obviously instilled (or reminded her about) earlier in the year:

1. Hit with just a slight amount of extra spin on the groundies to maintain consistency without sacrificing depth or power.

2. Play the goddamned percentages, Mirjana, until you can open up the court for your money-shot and pull the trigger. Hit big, but for crying out loud hit crosscourt and make the girls play, especially on huge second-serve returns. Don't hit something down-the-line in an open stance when you're already 10 minutes late to the ball and then stand there looking completely astonished that the shot sprayed 15 feet wide of the doubles sideline and gave some poor old lady in the sixth row a concussion. Whatever you do, don't just throw-away your first or second balls in any point construct.

3. Use the big serve out wide in both deuce and ad-courts more often to set-up your kill-shot, and then play the percentages on THOSE, too.

4. Move more quickly to your crappy, mechanical backhand and hug it closer with full hip & shoulder torque and a touch of extra topspin and PLEASE go for the crosscourt percentage shot during a typical rally.

5. Breathe between points.

The rest is for a good sports shrink to fix. A top-notch guy like Allen Fox could do wonders for her.

Pull it together, Miki. There's still two years of potential improvement, but find a new rung on the ladder.
 

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Right you are -- I forgot that Simmonds was also a Southpaw.

Still, with the exception of Lucie, who can be said to have truly "beaten" Miki in their heartbreaker match, Hsu and Simmonds could have played with their racquets taped to their left LEGS and Miki still would not have won.

Those two creampuffs didn't beat Miki -- she beat herself.

Hope she finds some new inspiration soon or I can see her easily dropping out of the Top 200 within 8 or 9 months.

It's time to move on from the Prpic Experiment (News Flash: It Hasn't Worked -- she had better results with Jeff Russell in 2010) and retain the basic technical adjustments Prpic quite obviously instilled (or reminded her about) earlier in the year:

1. Hit with just a slight amount of extra spin on the groundies to maintain consistency without sacrificing depth or power.

2. Play the goddamned percentages, Mirjana, until you can open up the court for your money-shot and pull the trigger. Hit big, but for crying out loud hit crosscourt and make the girls play, especially on huge second-serve returns. Don't hit something down-the-line in an open stance when you're already 10 minutes late to the ball and then stand there looking completely astonished that the shot sprayed 15 feet wide of the doubles sideline and gave some poor old lady in the sixth row a concussion. Whatever you do, don't just throw-away your first or second balls in any point construct.

3. Use the big serve out wide in both deuce and ad-courts more often to set-up your kill-shot, and then play the percentages on THOSE, too.

4. Move more quickly to your crappy, mechanical backhand and hug it closer with full hip & shoulder torque and a touch of extra topspin and PLEASE go for the crosscourt percentage shot during a typical rally.

5. Breathe between points.

The rest is for a good sports shrink to fix. A top-notch guy like Allen Fox could do wonders for her.

Pull it together, Miki. There's still two years of potential improvement, but find a new rung on the ladder.
#2 is so important and easily fixable. Those second serve returns she hits. Yikes. I'm not so sure she should get rid of Prpic though. I mean, you can lead a horse to water, but the horse has to take the drink.
 
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