After a week filled with polemics and surprising upsets, Djokovic, Nadal and co are happy to leave Madrid’s blue clay for the red clay of the Foro Italico in Rome.

Check out some pics and video of the draw ceremony which took place at one of Rome’s most popular tourist sites, the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna). Attending the ceremony: former Italian players Nicola Pietrangeli, Lea Pericoli, but also Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray and Fabio Fognini.

Nicola Pietrangeli:

Rome Masters draw ceremony: Nicola Pietrangeli

Rome Masters draw ceremony: Nicola Pietrangeli

Francesca Schiavone:

Rome Masters draw ceremony: Francesca Schiavone

Rome Masters draw ceremony: Francesca Schiavone

Flavia Pennetta:

Rome Masters draw ceremony: Flavia Pennetta

Thanks a lot to Mauro, webmaster of STE Fans, dedicated to the one and only Stefan Edberg.

Thanks to JC for sharing his pics and anecdotes about his 2009 European tour.

On this self-guided five-city tennis journey, I flew to Spain, France and Great Britain to retrace the footsteps of the tennis legend and my personal hero – Rafael Nadal. Along the way I discover many wonderful cultures and met individuals from all walks of life, all of whom celebrating tennis.

From the Bull-fighting in Madrid, to the Picasso Museum nestled in the Gothic quarters of Barcelona; I wanted to explore Nadal’s homeland of Spain both as a traveler and as a tennis fan.

First leg of the tour: the Madrid Open

Some pics of Palacio Real, Parco del Retiro and Plaza de Toros:

JC at palacio real

Lake 3

Plaza de toros (largest in Spain)

Bullring - wide view

La Caja Magica – the Magic Box – home of the Madrid Open:

Madrid Open Front Gate

Madrid Open Center Court - Caja Magique with retractable roof (3)

JC at Mardid Open

Yellow and Red

Women’s final: Dinara Safina defeats Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4
Women's Final changeover view

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (14)

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (7)

Men’s final: Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 (it was the day after the thriller semifinal opposing Nadal and Djokovic)

Roger at Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal entering (4)

Practicing Serves

Read the complete story on tennis-8.com

Best of February 2012:

She is not a one-hit wonder after all: 2011 US Open semifinalist Angelique Kerber beat Lucie Safarova, Monica Niculescu, Maria Sharapova, Yanina Wickmayer and Marion Bartoli en route for her first WTA title.

19 yr old Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino won her maiden WTA title in Bogota, playing in just her third WTA main draw and facing a 5-2 third set deficit in her opening match.

David Ferrer keeps flying under the radar and he keeps winning: after Auckland in January, he captured 2 titles in February: Acapulco and Sao Paulo.

Lleyton Hewitt recorded its 38th Davis Cup singles victory, a remarkable 14 more than by any other Australian player.

I love every time I put the gold jacket on and playing for my country whoever it’s against and my preparation is exactly the same

Manuel Orantes has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the master player category. Orantes won the 1975 US Open by beating Jimmy Connors in the final, and he was the runner-up to Bjorn Borg at the 1974 French Open.

Like father, like daughter: Jessica Korda, daughter of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, won her first LPGA tournament this month. The place of her triumph: Australia of course.
A nice tribute to her father’s infamous “scissor kick”.

February tournament winners: Angelique Kerber (Paris), Daniela Hantuchova (Pattaya), Victoria Azarenka (Doha), Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino (Bogota), Sofia Arvidsson (Memphis), Agnieszka Radwanska (Doha), Timea Babos (Monterrey), Sara Errani (Acapulco), Su-Wei Hsieh (Kuala Lumpur), Roger Federer (Rotterdam and Dubai), Nicolas Almagro (Sao Paulo), Milos Raonic (San Jose), Juan Martin Del Potro (Open 13 Marseille), Jurgen Melzer (Memphis), David Ferrer (Buenos Aires and Acapulco), Kevin Anderson (Delray Beach)

Worst of February 2012:

The Arantxa Sanchez Saga: the Sanchez clan seemed to be a much more normal family than the Grafs and Seles’ … until Arantxa’s autobiography release.

Lleyton Hewitt will be sidelined for four months after having surgery on his left foot, but eyes a return in tile for the Olympics. Ranked 170th, the 31 yr old Australian, will have to rely on a wild card from the International Tennis Federation to contest the London Olympics.

Aravane Rezai, for her Fed Cup debacle.

Andy Roddick: beaten by Denis Istomin in San Jose, ousted by Xavier Malisse in Memphis, Roddick has plummeted to his lowest ranking since 2001 (31).

The Swiss Davis Cup team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka: 0-5 loss against the US team on clay. Enough said.

Thanks to Rick for sharing his 2011 Indian Wells pics.

Entering the tournament:

Watching Nadal vs Del Potro:

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic practicing side by side:

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Follow Amélie Mauresmo: @AmeMauresmo

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