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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Pain: How Maria Sharapova breaks down her opponent's mental game

[embed]http://youtu.be/cpdDygFAwkM[/embed]

The Daily Pain is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet during the French Open (otherwise known as the Daily Bagel).

• Video: Here's a hint: If you're a grown man wearing a suit, don't publicly fight off two kids for Svetlana Kuznetsova's towel. Disgraceful fan behavior.

• Peter Bodo on how Maria Sharapova breaks down her opponents mentally.

A few days ago, it seemed that Monsieur Grim Reaper might be coming for Sharapova, too, yet she went whistling past the graveyard, beating back the goblins with poise and sometimes unwarranted but genuine confidence. Credit her intensity; credit a pure, innate, competitive drive that has shaped her right down to the smallest of mannerisms. The other women accept this with equanimity; the more able among them somehow understanding that dealing with it -- and even emulating it (the shriekers on tour are all her offspring) -- is more productive than whining about it. Somehow, Sharapova doesn’t really seem like the kind of woman you’d go to for tea and sympathy.

• From Tom Perrotta for The Wall Street Journal: Rafael Nadal has had a cakewalk draw.

The average rank of Nadal’s opponents through four rounds this year is 124, higher than any other year at the French Open through four rounds except 2010. That year, he only played one player ranked worse than 50—so much worse (655) that it lifted the average rank of his opponents all by itself.

The good draw is well timed for Nadal, since he continues to struggle with back pain (he had tape on his back again on Monday, when he beat Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in the fourth round in an hour and 33 minutes).

But now Nadal’s real French Open begins. He’ll next play David Ferrer, the fifth seed and last year’s finalist, in the quarterfinals (Ferrer beat Nadal this spring). If Nadal wins, he’ll play either Andy Murray or Gael Monfils in the semifinals. If he reaches the final, he’ll probably have to play Novak Djokovic.

• Another funny dispatch from Alix Ramsay for TenniShorts: Can we blame the toilet for Roger Federer's loss?

• Kim Clijsters calls out Angelique Kerber for poor sportsmanship.

• Andrea Petkovic prepared for her match against Kiki Bertens the way anyone in the 21st century would: with YouTube.

• Reem Abuleil for Sport360.com caught up with Nick Kyrgios and Elina Svitolina to find out what life is like for a tennis teenager.

• I'm a bit out of touch on this point since I'm in Paris, but apparently the French Open coverage in the States has been horrible.

• Very good read here from Unseeded and Looming: Is there sexism in tennis' officiating ranks?

• Video: Fernando Verdasco went absolutely ballistic yesterday on a line call, and Andy Murray actually stepped in to give him the point just to calm him down:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W61FBMoPoHI[/embed]

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