Surface: red clay
Top 8 Seeds: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic
Floaters: Julien Benneteau, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Nicolas Almagro, Igor Andreev, (Q) Marcel Granollers, Al Montanes, Lleyton Hewitt, Horacio Zeballos, Jeremy Chardy
Notes: Among the myriad of interesting first-round match-ups are Marcos Baghdatis vs. Ernests Gulbis, (15) Sam Querrey vs. Benneteau, (11) Ivan Ljubicic vs. Mathieu (winner to likely face Almagro), (16) Juan Monaco vs. Andreev, (10) Tomas Berdych vs. (Q) Granollers, (5) Soderling after a bye potentially vs. Montanes, (9) Mikhail Youzhny vs. Hewitt, (14) John Isner vs. Zeballos, and (2) Djokovic likely after a bye vs. Chardy; it is Federer’s first appearance on clay since winning Roland Garros last year; Nadal, sans injury, remains the favorite after his brutal display at Monte Carlo; Nadal beat the defending champ Djokovic in last year’s final; Murray has lost in the first round in his last two Masters Series appearances…but is back with his girlfriend!; if Nadal wins Rome he will tie Andre Agassi’s record of 17 Masters Series titles; Murray is 1-4 career in Rome, Soderling 3-5, Tsonga 0-2, Isner 0-0; Nadal has won Rome four of the last five years; Juan Martin del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko miss Rome with injury, and Andy Roddick because he looks for any excuse to skip the Euro clay season (no James Blake either).
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix
Seeds: Caroline Wozniacki, Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic, Aggie Radwanska, Victoria Azarenka, Sam Stosur, Yanina Wickmayer
Floaters: Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic, Lucie Safarova, Flavia Pennetta, Katarina Srebotnik, Marion Bartoli, Francesca Schiavone, Gisela Dulko, Shahar Peer, Agnes Szavay
Notes: Wow, two unseeded former No. 1s in Henin and Ivanovic; lots o’ first-round meetings of interest including (1) Wozniacki after a bye likely facing Safarova, (6) Azarenka vs. Pennetta, (3) Kuzy vs. Srebotnik, (7) Stosur vs. Bartoli, (8) Wickmayer vs. Schiavone (winner to likely face Henin), (4) Jankovic vs. Dulko, (5) Radwanska vs. Ivanovic (winner to likely meet Peer), and (2) Safina after a bye likely to face Szavay; watch for Safina and Kuznetsova fighting the Russian yips, returning from injury and facing tough players right off the bat; Kuzy is the defending champ, beating Safina is last year’s final.
Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem
Seeds: Carla Suarez Navarro, Patty Schnyder, Anabel Madina Garrigues, Melinda Czink, Angie Kerber, Petra Martic, Iveta Benesova, Lucie Hradecka
Floaters: Alize Cornet
Notes: Tough opener for (6) Martic against Cornet; in last year’s final Medina Garrigues defeated Ekaterina Makarova for the title.
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