DIRTY TRICK ATP spring clay schedule a travesty! Nadal is livid, and rightly so. So much of the time the ATP stages rather meaningless uncovered small tourneys -- 3 at a time over 26 weeks -- where elite players have no incentive to appear. However, over the next four (4) weeks they have shoehorned elite Euro clay court events one after another: Monte Carlo, Rome, Barcelona, Hamburg, plus lesser events in Munich and Estoril. A herd of ATP clay courters from Europe and South America earn many of their ranking points and prize money here. Nadal, #2 and the king of clay for 3 years, is chasing #1 and is favored during this part of the year. IS THIS FAIR? Rafa is outraged that he is expected to play grueling long matches deep into draws week after week after week leading to Roland Garros. Even if he defends his many clay titles, what shape will he be in to defend the prestigious Roland Garros crown? He may have to skip events and forego ranking points in order to keep his Paris odds strong. It makes Rafa’s pursuit of #1 a real uphill struggle. This favors Federer, Djokovic and Roddick etc. who would love to see Rafa softened up. In fact, Federer prays for someone to dislodge Nadal in Paris, perhaps clearing the path for Roger’s biggest triumph to date! Next, the short grass court season, a totally different feel from red clay, is shoehorned in just after the French for a few weeks. Guys like Roddick, who make no effort to storm across the red clay, can set their sights on Wimbledon preparation while the dirtballers waste themselves! The hardcourters can skip weeks at a time willy-nilly to rest and cherry pick tuneups leading to the U.S. Open! And one has months to gain strength for the Aussie. No wonder many players skip much of the U.S. hardcourt season and play smaller clay events in Europe!