I cannot relate to men’s professional doubles play… it is just not the same game that I play (too fast, too powerful, too quick); but I did learn something watching the women’s semi’s and mixed finals at the Open.
One of the real keys to winning doubles (at our level) is an aggressive net partner. The team that had the player at the net going – or threatening to go – usually had the advantage in the point. Even if the net person didn’t have a chance to put the ball away, they frequently forced the opponent to change their stroke and often miss their shot.
And the next time they had that same shot, the opponent was then wondering if the net man was going or not.
Bob Bryan (who won his eighth Mixed Doubles Major title, with his eighth different female partner!) was a real “intimidator” at the net. And it is important to note that he did NOT move sideways… he moved DIAGONALLY toward the net and got really tight to the net for his put-away volleys.
Being aggressive and playing tight to the net also seems to be very effective. But – and this is a big “but” – you really have to put some stick on that volley. If you just block it back, you and your partner are wide open to a pass or, more likely, an ungettable lob over your heads.