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The Monday Slice: Wimbledon enhances its standing

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FIRST SERVE

The wheels of change turn pretty slowly at Wimbledon - perhaps rightly so.

At long last, the world's most famous, historic and popular tournament has taken a step forward by erecting a retractable roof over Centre Court, an innovation that will help compensate for the usually lousy British weather.

While some old-timers have huffed and puffed about the change, claiming it interferes with the traditions of the event, most agree that this is a positive move that will cut out some of the frustration felt by players and fans during long rain delays.

In past years, matches have sometimes stretched out over three or four days due to weather conditions, creating untold headaches for the schedulers.

The next step must surely be to stage night matches at SW19, but that could be some time coming.

Resistance from local residents means that late evening sessions are not as simple to stage as in Melbourne or New York, so Wimbledon looks set to remain primarily a daytime tournament for the next few years.

Prize money for Wimbledon has also been beefed up to make up for the current weakness of the British pound, which has dipped around 25 percent against the dollar in the past year.

But whether it carries the largest purse or not, there is little doubt that Wimbledon remains the king of all tennis tournaments and a new roof only enhances its standing.

DROP SHOT

Sadly, the days of boycotts and forfeits in the Davis Cup appear to be back after India was declared the victor of a scheduled clash after the Australian team refused to travel to the region. Security concerns were cited by Aussie tennis chiefs after a spate of terrorist attacks prompted a high profile cricket event to be moved to South Africa. Australia could now face sanctions including a Davis Cup suspension.

USE YOUR FREQUENT FLYER MILES

The Rome Masters event is always a highlight of the European clay court season and Rafael Nadal will be seeking to make up for his disappointment in 2008, when he lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round. This year's event takes on a particular poignancy, as special events will be held to commemorate popular Italian player Federico Luzzi, who died of leukemia last year at age 28.

CLEAN WINNER

The United States pulled off a huge upset to reach the Fed Cup final by beating the Czech Republic 3-2 in Brno. Rookie Alexa Glatch, 19, ranked 119th in the world, made a sensational start to her Fed Cup career, beating Iveta Benesova (No.29) and Petra Kvitova (No.48). Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands then staged a remarkable comeback from match point down in the decisive doubles to clinch a final showdown with Italy, which shocked favorite Russia in the other semi.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

Banco Sabadell Open, Barcelona: Rafael Nadal
Fed Cup semifinals: Italy 4 Russia 1, Czech Republic 2 United States 3

THIS WEEK'S PREDICTIONS

Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Rome: Rafael Nadal
Porsche Grand Prix, Stuttgart: Victoria Azarenka
Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fes: Sorana Cirstea

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