Can Rome Make You Crazy?

Courts 1 and 2 filled with American doubles players

How is it possible to be irritated in Rome?

Well, I’ll tell you.

First off, in order to get to the tournament site you have to take the bus. It can take forever to arrive, is usually pretty crowded and seems to make a stop every five minutes.

And then you have to get off the bus. And cross the street.

This means crossing four lanes of traffic with just a prayer all the Smart cars and motorcycles and mini trucks and large Rome Christian tour busses will stop for you.

But it’s also pretty difficult to stay irritated. I’ll leave that up to the players.

First up was the “Nonna” court where Li Na took on Greta Arn in the quarterfinals. Not a pretty match at all. On top of it, the tournament sponsors placed those irritating noise makers/bats on every seat. You know, the ones that make a sharp clank when you hit them together.

Poor Li Na just couldn’t handle it and complained a few times to the umpire who constantly told the crowd to shut up. Well, why give everyone the noise makers in the first place?

Let's make some noise!

Next up on the second court was number one Caroline Wozniacki against Jelena Jankovic. The two of them must have questioned every other call, forcing the poor chair umpire to haul her ass down the ladder every couple of minutes. And when she refused, the pouting was really intense from both women. Maybe they were upset they had been banished from center court where Andy Murray and Florian Mayer got to play instead.

Here is my take on making the umpire get out of her chair: Either bring automatic line calling to clay courts once and for all or enforce the same replay rules for getting out and checking the mark. Players get three opportunities to have the umpire get out of the chair and if they are wrong all three times, they lose that privilege.

I checked out a bunch of doubles matches on Friday. If you want to watch Americans these days, the doubles court is where to find them. Fortunately, you can watch two courts at one time in Rome. Courts 1 and 2 butt up against one another so I was able to check out Sam Querrey and John Isner take on  Lukasz Kubot and  Oliver Marach while simultaneously watching Bethanie Mattek Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy battle Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Later in the day I checked out the Bryan Bros battle Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.

The doubles turned out to be the most entertaining matches of the day. The Bryans had a deciding point at 2-0 in the second to make it a set and 3-0 but lost it and then ended up losing the match in a super tiebreak. You have to think the Bryans must absolutely hate losing to the top American singles players.

Mamma Mia! Bryans lose to Roddick and Fish?

But really confusing is the play/attitude of Querrey and Isner. They looked absolutely miserable during the first set and a half of their match and seemed to be ready to high tail it out of Rome. And then suddenly they turned it around and won the match.

The one thing I found interesting: Jarmila Gajdosova was watching the Isner/Querrey match. Granted, she was playing doubles herself later in the day, but it made me curious why she would be out there.

A few yeas ago – well, 8 to be exact –I remembered reading a press conference with Martina Navratilova when she played in Rome. Don’t’ ask me why I retain this information, but she mentioned eating unripe peaches at a restaurant close to the Italian Open. After a little bit of research, I found the press conference and turns out the restaurant was called La Serenissima.

I had big plans for a fantastic post about how I found the restaurant and the owner was this old Italian man who had served the players for decades and recounted stories about what they ate the years they won, etc.

It would have been a great story.

Well, I hate to be a buzz kill but for the life of me I cannot find that restaurant. I asked a few people in the media room in Rome who had no idea what I was talking about. I even stopped a few older looking officials around the tournament grounds but again, no luck. I looked for it online and couldn’t find anything. I then asked a cab driver who looked it up in her book but couldn’t find it. Sigh. Tomorrow is my last night in Rome and I’m going to at least find a restaurant that serves unripe peaches. I know that doesn’t sound too inviting at first, but I have this crazy notion they are probably really delicious. If you have any recommendations, please pass them my way.

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