Rome: Nadal vs. . . . Octavian?

Our own Asad Raza writing for Tennis:

This week will be featuring one of our blog regulars, Asad Raza, who is in Rome for the men’s Italian Open. He’ll be writing here a couple times, on the home page, and over at Pete’s as well—he’s got this thing covered. Here’s his first post.

Hi Steve,

Tennis As you know, today is first day of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, also known as the ATP Masters Roma, the Internazionali del Foro Italico, the Italian Open, and simply as Rome, which is what I like to call it. I touched down a couple hours ago, promptly discovering that Richard Gasquet’s horrow show of a season continues. But you gotta feel great for Luis “Mucho Lucho” Horna, an undersized warrior who always leaves it all out on the court, win or lose. [Insert mandatory reference to Roman gladiators here.] Homeboy Andreas Seppi took out another Frenchman, Fabrice Santoro, but the Roman papers are touting the chances of Simone Bolelli, for some reason (he’s photogenic?).

It strikes me that Rome is currently the second most important tennis tournament to take place on the European continent, after Roland Garros. The fall indoor tournaments, Paris-Bercy and Madrid, take place too late in the year to determine much more than the scuffle for the last few spots in the year end Master’s Cup. That prestigious grass-court tourney, Wimbledon, is actually held on an island just off the coast of France. The other two European Masters tournaments, Monte Carlo and Hamburg, mark the beginning and the end of the clay season’s run-up to Roland Garros, but Rome is its beating heart.

More here.