Re: Rome 2013 - 3 is a magic number
I was never really comfortable with Maria playing all 4 of these clay tournaments anyway. When you look at how close together all of them are and how they're scheduled, requiring 4 or 5 straight days of playing, it's very grueling. And when you consider the level Maria is playing at, you knew she'd make deep runs at all of them. That's a lot of tennis. She's probably played more matches than anyone over the past month.
I realize she played all 4 of them last year and it worked out, culminating with the French title. But I think she was burned out at Wimbledon. I feel the same as others do in that I wish this withdrawal happened at Madrid instead of Rome. Rome is the perfect preparation and transition into RG, so playing only 2 matches here will hurt Maria's chances at the French. It certainly doesn't kill her chances by any means, but I think it damages them. Serena was in this same scenario last year. Deep Madrid run, she comes to Rome and plays a couple of matches before pulling out, probably thinking she's prepared. And we saw what happened to her in RG.
I'm just putting that comparison out there, I know the situations are different and doesn't indicate what will happen in a couple of weeks. But I am a big believer in Rome and its importance as a lead-in to RG. That surface and those conditions are perfect for finding your groove. Maria won it the past two years and it lead to a French semi and a French title afterwards.
Bottom line is, I hope Maria takes these extra days off and gets healthy mentally and physically and comes out ready to defend her crown. This will be a big and exciting challenge for her.