I have no doubt that Mels "believes". Nor do I doubt that she has "courage", which is apparently the word she'll be advertising on her shoes at the Open. She proved both again today when she broke Domi three times while serving for the match, and saved three match points on her own serve with some courageous hitting and scrambling. But in the end, Domi did finally serve it out on her fourth try, and once again Mels is out early at a USO series tournament.
On some level I want the kid to lose her first round match just so everyone starts leaving her alone. She said in her presser that "everyone only has their Cinderella story once" and that last year's Open was hers. Now it's all about expectation and attention, which is exacerbated by Serena and Venus not playing any lead-up tournaments (and who knows if Venus will withdraw from the Open, too), making her the top American at every U.S. tournament. It's clear that she's had difficulty dealing with the glare, though she assured us (not-so-convincingly) that she's prepared for what she'll have to deal with in NYC.
From a technical standpoint (and trust me, technical analysis is not my strongsuit) her serve is weaker now than it was a year ago. She's adjusted her motion but it's a work in progress, as she's now prone to double fault at key moments. She also relies too much on her slice backhand, which isn't going to cut it now that her opponents are expecting it and can get up to the ball.
But the one thing you have to like about Melanie is that she'll fight. And that fighting spirit alone might just get her a few wins at the Open, depending on her draw.
Lord help her if she gets a draw full of Russians. The hype will be deafening.