The first few months of the tennis season take observers around the world. From Australia to the Middle East to South America to the just concluded North American hard court swing, one continent hasn't been the center of attention yet, Europe. That's about to change, as now the tennis world moves to the clay courts of Europe. As the sport becomes more homogenous, and the "clay court specialist" is all but dead, there isn't too much of a change in play or tactics, but what makes the clay court season so appealing is the scenery. The bright blue water of the Monte Carlo Country club, the new blue clay of the Madrid Masters, and the great Roman architecture of the Foro Italico are all included within the swing. It concludes with the grandness of the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. It's a great time of year, coinciding with spring in the United States, and for a tennis fan, it's great to watch. The increase of tennis on the internet and television, especially ESPN3 and Tennis Channel, has greatly increased the sheer amount of tennis available. Witness the outrage over the lack of tv coverage of the first rounds of the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
The European clay court season begins in Monte Carlo next week, which is actually not in Monte Carlo, oddly enough, but in France. Then the players crisscross the continent, going from France to Serbia to Romania to Barcelona to Madrid to Portugal to Dusseldorf and to Rome, finally ending up in Paris for the French Open. It's European tennis, with a European flair.
I've mentioned this before, but not necessarily here at Bloguin, that what makes any "season" so successful is the build up. The French Open, one the four majors and by far the biggest clay court tournament in the world. Every tournament builds up to Roland Garros, and it adds a lot to the drama of the clay court season. It'll start next week with the Monte Carlo Masters, and promises to be a great clay court season.