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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Serena Williams celebrates Italian Open title

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10Rofm6o57A

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

• Video: Check out Serena Williams' champagne celebration in Rome.

• Rafael Nadal says he never expected this kind of success -- six titles in eight tournaments this year -- after a seven-month layoff. Peter Bodo begs to differ.

He’s got this streak of humility that is beginning to look nothing less than bizarre, and it looks as though he’s going to cling to it no matter what the record books or scoreboards say. Who else would have reacted the way he did after Nadal won his sixth title of year and his back-to-back Masters in Rome?

...

Seriously -- was anyone surprised that Nadal, who has been virtually unbeatable on clay throughout his career, returned to the tour this winter after his eight-month layoff and picked up right where he left off? Nadal also added: “To win three Master 1000s and two ATP 500 tournaments is more than I ever dreamed.”

Oh, please. Enough with the drama and humble protestations. Rafa is starting to sound like that gazillionaire who pleads abject poverty even as he’s adding a few million to his bank account with a 10-minute stock trade. I’m not going to question Nadal’s sincerity, but there’s something patently cuckoo about this degree of humility when it comes to his performance and record on clay.

• As expected, Brian Baker will skip the French Open. He blogs about his decision for USA Today.

• After making the finals of the Italian Open, Victoria Azarenka became the 10th WTA player to surpass $20 million in career prize money. Serena leads with $44,549,390.

• Andy Murray is on the cover of the June 2013 issue of UK’s Reader’s Digest.

• Steve Tignor talks to Jimmy Connors about his autobiography, The Outsider.

What is true, thinking back on watching Jimmy in his prime, was that there was a connection, an electric current, that he could establish with an audience, with an entire stadium—sometimes the crowd loved him, sometimes it hated him, but people were caught up in the match when Connors played. I don’t think I’ve seen that, in quite the same way, with any player since.

"How do you get more people to like tennis? That's the question I always had in mind when I played," Connors says. "Back then, we couldn't take for granted that there was going to be an audience for it."

• Get to know Ricardas Berankis, one of the ATP's up-and-comers.

• Irina Falconi is blogging about her quest to qualify for the French Open.

• Non-tennis: How a blogger ended up on The Office finale.
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