Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What have we learned during the clay-court season so far?

With the French Open only days away, here are few things that I think have been revealed in the past few weeks:

• Maria Sharapova is as legit as they come when it's time to get down and dirty on the dirt. I remember saying a few times over the past couple of years that she shouldn't play on clay to save her shoulder. So much for that notion!

• Rafael Nadal looks pretty good on the stuff. So does Novak Djokovic.

• The red stuff, that is. We all know how they felt about the blue stuff in Madrid.

• Roger Federer and Serena Williams didn't seem to mind it as much, and are playing super-solid as well.

• Defending French Open women's champ Li Na is rounding into form. Last year's finalist and '10 champ Francesca Schiavone is rounding out of form.

• Sara Errani, she of the three tournament wins on the dirt so far this year, could be a darkhorse—or she could get pummeled against elite, hard-hitting players which seems to be the case the past few weeks.

• Andy Murray is going to be hard-pressed to defend his Roland Garros semifinal points.

• Maybe Tomas Berdych will be the one to grab them up? Or David Ferrer? Or Juan Martin del Potro?

• American men hadn't played enough to be marked as contenders. (And I'm not just referring to Mardy Fish, who's sick: I don't want to be called the next Ivan Ljubicic!)

(Photo: Getty Images)

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