Originally Posted by Play_Suspended
I just don't necessarily think the partner makes as much difference to Laura's personal game as you suggest.
I am assuming that doubles entry is supposed to be a learning exercise so I think at this stage for Laura the choice of partner is the most important thing in order to get as much as possible out of a tournament. If Laura played with a similar ranked player or with Heather, as they might do in the Fed Cup, there would be no 'senior partner' to give the lead. I suspect the learning experience would be minimal with both players going for their shots based on their normal game. Playing with an experienced doubles player, would I hope instil a greater feeling of not wanting to let your partner down, especially if you think that they are doing you a favour by playing with you. That alone should curb the instinct to spray winners/losers about in reckless abandon. If your partner digs you out of a hole and sets you up with some easy winners, it must be natural to try and do the same and stay in rallies longer, instead of the win or lose hitting that seems to be Laura's main singles strategy.
I did say that the 'drawback' with doubles is that it hides the problem Laura has when playing shots from alternate corners (to be fair so do a lot of women). However, the reference to Laura's personal game was regarding her performances when the opponents played on her in the mixed doubles. If you look back at the Olympic mixed, Laura withstood some fierce hitting from some very tall and powerful men and also took on and outplayed better ladies in many rallies. That seemed a step up from her singles displays at Wimbledon and the Olympics, but I admit she was helped because she only had half a court to cover.
Having said that, it does show enormous potential if she can just get her thinking and confidence right and also improve the ability to play forehand - backhand - forehand - backhand without immediately giving the point away.
I don't know how much improvement you can bring to the side to side running game. At the coaching level, all you can do is instil the need to move back towards the centre as soon as you have played a shot - not linger in the corner hoping it will come back to you. After that it is all physical but no matter how much training you do, everyone has a limit to their speed and agility.
I have just watched Cibulkova (5'3" tall) put in a tremendous performance of court coverage against Serena Williams but if Laura trained every day for a year, with her build and at 5'11" she (and many many others besides) could never achieve the same speed of running and recovery. There comes a time that you have to recognise your physical capabilities and then instead of worrying about how fast you can chase, concentrate more on what you do with the ones you get to.
As regards the doubles serve, it would be nice to think that Laura can just switch in a consistent but less penetrative serve at will, as you suggest in doubles. When you are playing singles and hitting 17 double faults in 3 sets, anyone with an ounce of common sense would switch to their stock serve for a while, just to put the onus on the opponent to win the point rather than have it gifted. At the moment, once the serve goes off the nerves take over so what should be an advantage becomes a liability. She must be serving reasonably well in the doubles compared to the previous day's singles match so I would put it down an improvement in the mind rather than the technique.