Simon Reed

Next coach could be make-or-break for Laura Robson

Simon Reed

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It has been another interesting week in the career of Laura Robson after she produced a superb display to beat Venus Williams in Rome before an admirable performance in defeat against Serena the following day.

This follows a pattern: when she plays against big name players she produces a higher level of tennis than she does elsewhere.

I think the name is getting around a bit now too. What was interesting about her match with Serena was just how seriously Serena took the contest.

Serena looked totally focused – almost as if she was treating it like a final - she didn't look like she often does in the early rounds of tournaments when she can bounce from calm to panic before finding a middle ground later in the match that's usually good enough for victory.

There was none of that against Laura, she was locked in and it was quite interesting that she applauded off Robson at the end. That's is very unusual, so she recognises that there is immense potential there.

However, when it comes to Laura Robson it is still just that: potential.

Her last coach Zeljko Krajan did not fix her problems serving and that remains an issue. It is potentially a very good serve but it is too erratic and she had another eight double faults in her defeat on Tuesday night. That kind of number has been all too familiar. She has got to get that fixed and if she does then she has a major chance.

The key decision for her now though is who is going to be her next coach – it is a decision that could define her career.

I don't know Laura well, I've only met her a couple of times, but when a player splits from her coach you can usually find some truth and falsehoods in what is being said from both sides.

Krajan basically said that Laura was not working hard enough, while she said that the training wasn't fun.

Well, ask Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka or Maria Sharapova if their rise to the top was much "fun" and they will say: No – it was a lot of hard work.

If Laura takes an easy option with her next coach, which is tempting as she is already a very wealthy woman, then all the promise she has will produce limited result. She could still get into the top 10 and knock off players in Grand Slams but she will not be winning those events unless she really puts in the hard graft.

But if she has the right coach and work ethic then she could be a superstar.

At the moment she has the LTA’s Lucie Ahl and people at Adidas helping her out and I sense that for right now that's fine for Laura but that type of situation shouldn't last too long.

It is crossroads time for her and you cannot underestimate the importance of this next coaching appointment.

From a pure talent standpoint there is no doubt she has what it takes. Even when she was being beaten comfortably by Serena she was not being bossed around. She stayed in the rallies, she is a terrific ball striker, conditions and surface changes don't seem to bother her and on pure talent there are very few better.

She needs to find the consistency though – she should be finding it much easier against players below her in the rankings early on in non-Grand Slam tournaments.

If you were able to clone bits of Laura Robson with Britain's next best player Heather Watson then you would have a top five player already.

If Laura had Heather's mentality you would have a hell of player. I don't see Heather as a top 10 player but she could become a top 20 player and make a lot of money – she is a player that has, and continues to, make the absolute most of her abilities but the mega-bucks could go to Laura.

Robson does not have to go far to look for a perfect role model either as we have one here in Britain in the shape of Andy Murray.

From what I've heard, Murray wasn't the hardest worker out in Spain growing up but somewhere down the line Andy realised there was an awful lot of money and success waiting for him if he applied himself properly to the game.

He changed his outlook, he changed his body, became a freak of nature, and is now number two in the world – he is a great example for Laura to follow.

However, at the moment, I feel she is going to remain very dangerous periodically as opposed to a real threat at the business ends of tournaments. The pattern is well set and it's up to her to break it.

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