imagesIn all due respect to the clay events in Monte Carlo and Madrid, I feel the real heart of the clay circuit is Rome and Paris. The stadium in Madrid is weird and the Spanish people who attend the matches all seem dressed up to the nines like they're enduring the tennis so they can go out to a really super party afterward. It's only in Rome where the people come out en masse and the courts are so gorgeous with the white statues adorning the stadiums. Rome is where I remember Borg beating Adriano Pannata in the 1978 finals and where Spadea reached the quarterfinals in 2004, beating in succession, Scheuttler, Arazi and Davydenko. And a lot has already happened in the two days of this year's Rome event. Milos Raonic is reeling, losing in the first round to Kohlschreiber and dropping his coach of five years, the Spaniard, Galo Blanco, who was attributed with making Raonic a good clay court player. Who will Raonic pick as his next coach? There's word that the newly-retired Croatian star, Ivan Ljubicic, will get the call. Raonic has reached No. 13, but he is sputtering now and his mighty ego may be clouding his game and future. Who has the upper hand as Roland Garros looms in three weeks: Djokovic or Nadal? Djoko won their only meeting of the year in Monte Carlo, but Nadal has lost only two matches all year after returning after the Australian Open and he easily dispatched the hot player, Wawrinka, in the Madrid finals. It seems like a two-man race to the French Open finals. And what about the second man who beat Nadal this year, Horacio Zeballos of Argentina? Since flattening Nadal in Chile, Zebo has gone 3-9 after losing to Jeremy Chardy today in Rome. He has played four clay court events in Europe and lost in the first round of each one. Who was it on this site who said they thought Zebo had a masters or slam semis in him?But I don't want to leave you on a sour note. How about the two beautifully aging, 30-somethings meeting in a first round match in Rome today, and Mikhail Youzhny getting the upper hand on Tommy Haas. It should be interesting to see if any of the four contending 30-somethings (Fed, Ferrer, Youzhny and Haas) have anything left when they get to Roland Garros.