Laura Robson’s decision this week to end her short spell with Miles Maclagan means she is again looking for a new coach. In an exclusive interview, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri, who helped discover Monica Seles, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and several other champions, tells The Tennis Space how good the Briton can become and how she can translate her undoubted talent into more success on the court.
As someone who has watched Laura develop, what does she need to improve in her game? I think she’s got to take advantage of being a lefty. She has to work on that wide breaking slice serve in the ad court and be ready for a defensive return, because largely she is going to get a defensive return off that serve. She’s got to be able to put fear into the returner that she’s going to be able to come in (off that serve).
Is there anything she needs to change?
I think she has to decide what is her style of play and then build her strategy around what she can and can’t do. That’s much better than just hitting a load of balls. She needs to keep it simple and then try to do it as many times as she can. Right now, as a talent, she certainly doesn’t lack for much. I think she’s got to become a self-believer and build a little more strategy in her game.
What’s especially good about Laura’s game?
Basically her forehand and two-backhand are pretty damned good. The lefty tends to have a heavy cross-court forehand and Laura’s got to take advantage of that. Her physical conditioning has improved tremendously. When you can move a lot better and can get to defensive balls, it makes things a lot easier.
Laura’s changed coaches a lot – does that matter? Something I said in my new book – which comes out on March 1 – about Jelena Jankovic – she changed coaches more times than I changed wives. And that’s true, right now.
How important really is a coach?
Laura’s got to go with someone she trusts, someone who can she can communicate with, relate to and respect. That person has to know her ability and what she can do and can’t do. But she can go a long way in the game.
Laura’s mother, Kathy, has played a big role in getting her to where she is today. Laura turns 20 in January. Is it time for her to take charge of her own future?
Generally speaking, a parent can make the difference between success, mediocrity and failure. Someone like Gloria Connors is the best example. Coaching is a triangle; student on top, parent on the left and coach on the right. You can’t have one working against the other. I am just speaking in general (but) I think Robson needs to get the whole team together and come up with the best formula for Laura. And Laura needs to speak up.