Tuesday May 8th, 2012

The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Serena's still undefeated on clay after her 6-3, 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina and Petra Kvitova started off her title defense in Madrid with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Marina Erakovic on Monday. You can see highlights from their matches in the video posted above. Be sure to catch Serena's sharp angle forehand winner at the 0:33 mark. She liked that one.

• What's it like to play Futures events, where umpires are paid more than the players?

Players at these tournaments can stay at local hotels – usually offered at about $125 a night in Vero Beach – but can also be housed for free by local families, willing to help out a talented young tennis player. Lunches are provided by the tournaments, but everything else is an expense they have to incur on their own. I’d like to have a look inside some of these players tennis bags to see if they have two pennies to rub together after a week of living, travel and training expenses against prize money.

• Steve Tignor offers his thoughts on Madrid's blue clay.

Watching this event after Barcelona and before Rome makes me understand, and miss, the associations I have with red dirt. From my vantage point in the States, where most of our courts are asphalt and the ones that aren’t have a grayish tint, red clay signifies the Old World, and an alternative, century-old Continental tennis tradition. Blue clay, on the other hand, signifies the power of Ion Tiriac’s bank account.

• The Madrid Open will always struggle for relevance on the tour. It's just a weird tournament that doesn't offer much to the players as a warm up to Roland Garros.

If the tour wants to build brands in the run-up to a grand slam event – as the Emirates US Open Series tries to do for the US Open – it needs uniformity in terms of surfaces and conditions. What’s the real point playing on clay at altitude if the French Open is at sea level? Altitude training is one thing, but actually playing matches in totally different conditions is hardly an accepted method for professional sportsmen and women.

• Good eye to catch the unfortunate sweatshirt Marin Cilic had to wear after he lost the Munich final to Philip Kohlschreiber over the weekend.

• Want to live on "Roger Federer Street"? Now you can.

• Non-tennis: This is a great clip of the Beastie Boys' appearance on the Joan Rivers Show in 1987. See or read something that you enjoyed and want to share? Feel free to email or tweet us links to pieces from around the Internet that may have slipped past our radar.

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