Viva Italiano!!!

By Richard Kent
Updated: May 6, 2008

ROME — Yes, that is where I am. But I am not sure that they know that I am here since no one speaks English. When I say no one, I mean no one.

In any event the Tennis Stadium is right near the Olympic Stadium. I tried to find the basketball court where the United States got robbed in 1960, but could not.

The surface is red clay as a tune-up to the French Open. All the top men in the world are playing here and most of the top women next week.

Got a chance to see Gael Monfils win in the qualifiers last Saturday. I really like his game. It’s powerful,heady and quick. That’s what it takes on the circuit. He is one of the most talented youngsters.

I saw James Blake and his brother Thomas both Saturday and Sunday. James hit with very good friend Mardy Fish on Saturday and hung around with Fish, his brother and Andy Roddick.

They all seemed cordial with Roger Federer when he took the court to practice before a big crowd. Blake played Monday against a top clay court player. He really hasn’t gotten far in the Italian in the past, but did pick up a first round bye along with the likes of Federer, Nadal and Roddick.

The Fairfield, Ct. native lost in Barcelona last week in the first round 6-1,6-4. It was the start of his clay court season. Before that he was playing golf with Paula Creamer in the United States in a Tournament.

Nadal won the event in Barcelona.

Blake will play in Germany and then in the French Open at the end of the month. He is trying to keep his top 10 ranking. He seemed happy at the Italian.

He is in good health and is hitting the ball as well as he ever has.

Nadal is the favorite having won 103 out of his last 104 matches on clay.