Sunday, April 25, 2010

Verdasco Wins Barcelona, Rome Next

The clay season continues as Fernando Verdasco defeats French Open finalist Robin Soderling in the finals of the Barcelona Open. Great showing for both, Verdasco doing one better than his results in Monte Carlo the prior week and Soderling showing the world that he's no one-clay-tournament wonder.

But now things get real as the reigning French Open champion Roger Federer plays his first clay court tournament since winning in Roland Garros. Federer has never won in Rome, coming tantalizingly close in 2006 losing in five sets to Rafael Nadal in the finals. If Nadal wishes to solidify his clay dominance, he will have to get through to both French Open finalists. He is seeded to meet Federer in the semifinals for the first time in five years while Soderling, the only player to have defeated him in Roland Garros, is seeded to face him in the quarterfinals.

And after all that, if he makes the finals, he might have to contend against Novak Djokovic who gave him a real test last year and their brutal clay matches last year probably contributed to his knee troubles that continues to plague him.

Other tennis happenings:

- Fed Cup is underway with Italy and the United States moving on to the finals. Venus Williams withdrew like her sister. Justin Henin pulled out due to injury, but then played when her compatriot Kim Clijsters suffered a foot tear to keep her out for six weeks.

- Federer graces the cover of ESPN Magazine with the headline "Who's the World's Greatest Athlete? Roger Federer Looks the Part."

- Nadal took a rest from Barcelona and instead served as a pall bearer for former president of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch.

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