For breakfast: cereal and clay

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Associated Press
Associated Press

I woke up this morning with Maria Sharapova and Vitalia Diatchenko.

They, of course, were on TV, all sweaty and bouncing around the clay surface of Roland Garros. I, in shorts, T-shirt and slippers; settled on the man cave couch with a bowl of cereal.

It looked like a beautiful day in Paris, and the commentators – I didn’t catch their names – said so, speaking of a mild and cooler-than-usual day four at the French Open. Those comments led to me to digging online for weather information regarding the second tennis major of the season, and I found this article from Accuweather.com.

The story has some interesting nuggets from retired player and Tennis Channel commentator Justin Gimelstob about the role of weather on the Roland Garros clay.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“As we have seen in past years, the warmer conditions, lighter air, creates a dynamic where the ball moves through the air quicker and is more explosive bouncing off the surface,” Gimelstob said. “The warmer, drier conditions also affects the topsoil of the court surface.”

These conditions are extremely favorable to nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who relies on extreme racket head speed and excessive topspin, Gimelstob said.

Warm and dry weather allows the clay to become thinner, which makes it hard for players to get traction and keep their footing on the course. Damp and heavy conditions allow the clay to become thicker which can slow the ball down upon contacting the court surface as it picks up moisture, according to Gimelstob.

Aggressive players, such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, would benefit from the lighter conditions, while heavier conditions favor players who can generate their own pace and produce a flatter, linear trajectory on their shots. Those players include Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, Gimelstob said.

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