Move over, Jamie Lee Curtis: Mirjana Lucic is the new Scream Queen. I'm not talking about the screaming (mistakenly called "grunting") done by Maria Sharapova and other players as they hit, but actual screams of emotion. Playing against Jelena Jankovic--the woman known as the Drama Queen of the WTA (though I think JJ runs behind both Jusine Henin and Sania Mirza for that title)--Lucic ran through a number of emotions throughout the match, none of which was concealed.
Lucic's story is as sad as Jelena Dokic's, and quite similar. With partner Martina Hingis, Lucic was only 15 years old when she won the Australian Open doubles title in 1998. The next year, she dramatically reached the semifinals of Wimbledon, in which she was defeated in three sets by Steffi Graf. Hers was meant to be a great career, but--as in Dokic's case--she was crushed by parental abuse and family issues. She has shown great determination in staging a successful return to the tour, and this U.S. Open run, which included three qualifying matches, was a treat for fans.
Lucic has a huge game, with strong, flat strokes, but against a mover and precision shot-maker like Jankovic, she was able to take only one set (after which she let out an enormous scream). Not that Jankovic was playing her best tennis--she missed a lot of opportunities and was broken seven times, and she had familiar issues with her second serve. Lucic, however, made 60 unforced errors and double-faulted thirteen times, as she kept going for everything, all the time.
The match was very tense, and--though I know people don't like all of Jankovic's complaining--I stand with her one thing: Nowhere in the challenge system rules does it say that umpires have been relieved of some of their duties. (Fortunately, not all umpires believe they no longer have to make overrules.) The tension was relieved at the end, though, with an obviously warm exchange between the players at the net. Jankovic applauded her opponent after the match, and then, as she hit balls into the stands, that famous smile not only returned, but lingered as she walked out of the stadium.