Inside Rome: Roger Federer, Francesca Schiavone, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic

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Inside Rome: Roger Federer, Francesca Schiavone, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic

Finals day at the Foro Italico, the first time in 33 years to boast both a men’s and women’s final on a single day. And it rains.

It begins, sharp at 2 p.m., precisely as Masha and Sammy walk onto court, and it settles over Rome like a sorry blanket for more than two hours.

It’s mid-May, two weeks later than last year’s final, and they promised this would be a thing of the past: Rain had, you see, interrupted the 2010 final and the 2009 semifinals, too.

But while your tame Rome correspondent of three years’ standing has become acclimatised, umbrella at the ready, the Foro remains a place ill-equipped for weather of the intemperate kind. There are few places to shelter, even fewer places to sit, and there is no news about the chances of play nor of the rain’s progress across the Italian capital.

Time then to sit upon the ground and talk of players and matches and moments beyond the tramlines.

In the brief hiatus ahead of Round 2 when the big guns got their campaigns under way, the focus turned to Rome’s favorite protagonists, and to one man and one woman in particular who drew the crowds like bees to a honey pot.

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