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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Li Na explains a Chinese proverb about sneezing

http://youtu.be/a5BcbA7x7VM

• Video: Novak Djokovic and Dmitry Tursunov goof off in the player lounge at the Italian Open.

• Do yourself a favor and watch this embedded video of Li Na explaining a Chinese proverb about sneezing.

• Steve Tignor for Tennis.com takes us through the history of the Foro Italico, where the Italian Open is taking place this week.

Looked at in that light, with every tennis match played in the Foro Italico today, and with every arena that’s built there, a new history is being written on those grounds. The place is a reminder of all the ways, good and evil, in which athletics can be used, and it makes me wonder what people might someday make of our current mania for professional sports.

Are today’s athletes our version of the mythical gods that keep guard over the courts at the Foro, distant figures we invest with our own meanings, but who never look at us? Is the one-on-one competition of tennis an unconscious form of propaganda for the survival-of-the-fittest ideology of capitalism? (The sport was invented and popularized at a moment when Social Darwinism was a reigning philosophy in the West.)

• Bless that selfie: Eugenie Bouchard got a selfie with the Pope.

• The Columbia men's tennis team is making an unprecedented run through the NCAA tournament ... during final exams.

• Rafael Nadal prefers to be shirtless when carbo-loading.

• Vogue has put together a collection of Murray's best off-court looks.

• Video: Novak Djokovic is ready for the return of Road to Roland Garros, the tournament's off-beat Q&A web series.

http://youtu.be/lp7cz_QmkuY

• Non-tennis: SI.com offers the NFL off-season awards.

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