Zeljko Krajan has accused Laura Robson of lacking the maturity to make their ill-fated coach-player relationship successful. Robson, 19, hired the controversial Croatian coach after Wimbledon last year, but the pair never gelled. In an interview with The London Times, Krajan charges the failure was due to Robson's lack of commitment.
"The mentality is different. I did expect more from Laura but when it doesn't go that way any more it is not the time to stay."
"She was not mature enough to do this kind of work enough times for me. She needed to be more serious and to commit herself more.
"She had to do this every day, not only in the big tournaments."
During their nine-month partnership, Robson shot up the rankings from outside the top 80 to a career-high No. 38 last month. Under his tutelage she's beaten three major champions, including two memorable wins over Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the 2012 U.S. Open and a three-set thriller over Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open. She also made her first WTA final in Guangzhou in September. But those career milestones were matched by disappointing losses on a week-to-week basis. Heading into this week's tournament in Madrid, Robson had won back-to-back matches only once this year at the Australian Open, losing in the first round six times to opponents with an average rank of No. 59.
Krajan has the reputation of being a hard-driving coach who expects full commitment from his players, often to their own detriment. He coached Dinara Safina to No. 1 and her first of three Slam finals until stress fractures in her back effectively ended her career. His next charge, Dominika Cibulkova, also achieved career results under his teaching but spoke out after they split last year in Miami, citing the debilitating pressure she felt playing for him.
"Zeljko was a great coach, but in the end it was not helping me," Cibulkova said. "He was just putting too much pressure and with every ball I missed and every match I lost I was just putting myself really down because he was very, very tough. He's very intense all the time. I think me being with him two years is something now I don't know how I could handle it, but it made me maybe tougher in some way. In the end it was not helpful, so after we split I just felt so much freer on the court, if I do mistake, it doesn't matter."
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams' coaching consultant, disagreed with Krajan's criticisms of Robson's work ethic. Mouratoglou worked with Robson while she attended his academy in 2011.
Robson and Krajan finally agreed to part ways in Madrid, and the difference was immediately apparent. Back to her free-hitting style, Robson scored her first win over a top-five opponent, demolishing No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-1 in the second round. In the third round she led Ana Ivanovic 5-2 in the third set before her powerful but fragile serve let her down and she eventually lost, double-faulting on match point to lose 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (5).
It was the type of gutting three-set loss that may have left the Brit in an angry and frustrated state months ago, but she was encouraged by her week in Madrid
For now, Robson will work with Sven Groeneveld under the Adidas Player Development program. Despite her inconsistent results this season, Robson has an opportunity to earn a seed at the French OpenDaily Bagel: Sharapova, Dimitrov close in Madrid