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Clay-court warriors (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday April 25, 2007 11:01AM; Updated: Wednesday April 25, 2007 11:29AM
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Rafael Nadal (left) will square off with Roger Federer next week in an exhibition on a special half-clay, half-grass court.
Rafael Nadal (left) will square off with Roger Federer next week in an exhibition on a special half-clay, half-grass court.
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The "Battle of Surfaces" will be great fun, but I'll bet that the disparity between the two surfaces trumps any differences between the players as well as the server advantage. My prediction: Nearly every game, if not every game, will be won by the clay-side player. The strategy of the grass-side server will be to hit both serves like the first serve. Winner will be the player who best pulls off this strategy. Nod to Federer.
-- Paul Francis, Ithaca, N.Y.

Three points again:

1) I think whoever starts the point standing on clay (i.e. hitting onto grass) will win the majority of the points. Maybe we're agreeing here.

2) Nadal will have the crowd advantage and Federer isn't going to kill himself at exhibition (see: Kooyong '07).

3) When was the last time we speculated about an exhibition? Major props for the BoS promoters for making this happen. Everyone will run a photo of the court. Nadal and Federer will say all the right things. The novelty effect is huge. The carryover will help French Open buzz. Good plan all-around. We need more of this kind of thinking.

I think it's great that Federer and Nadal will be squaring off on a clay-grass composite court. But isn't the timing a little strange? I'd imagine for two guys hell-bent on winning the French Open and Wimbledon, they'd be better off waiting until July to do this.
-- R.Z., Los Angeles

Fair point. But, hey, it's only a one-match exo. Again, I'm sure each would rather win than lose, but I wouldn't expect headlong dives into court-side flower boxes. Plus, in a way, the timing is great. This is a trailer in a sense, a sneak preview, for the summer Slams.

After a quick scan of the Masters Series venues, it's glaringly obvious which two should be axed: 1) Paris, because the city already has a Grand Slam tournament, and 2) Cincinnati, because it's ... Cincinnati. Come on, how can Ohio's third-largest city trump the casino capital of Europe and the eponym of the hamburger?
-- Andrew, San Francisco

And on a related note, we should play the Super Bowl in Athens. I mean, Atlanta? The strip-club capital of the world versus the cradle of civilization? I think too many of you are forgetting the financial component to all this. We're not granting these events based on history, scenic locations or cultural options. The ones that bring in the cash (the fans, the sponsors, the TV rights, the return on investment) stay. The ones languishing don't.

In Federer's post-final Monte Carlo interview, he mentioned that he is gathering information on Rafa for the next match. I am only a tennis fan, not a tennis expert, but after all those losses on clay, what exactly is he gathering?
-- Angela Driscoll, Calgary, Alberta

"Mirka, do you copy? The dude hits with lots of topspin. I repeat: lots of topspin. Over."

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