Under the Roman sun or in grey Paris, every year, the routine is the same. Slides and drop-shots, caps and Ray-Bans, Nadal or Djokovic. We’re halfway through April and you know it, this is the beginning of the clay...

Under the Roman sun or in grey Paris, every year, the routine is the same. Slides and drop-shots, caps and Ray-Bans, Nadal or Djokovic. We’re halfway through April and you know it, this is the beginning of the clay court season.

  ... The Spaniards start to get interested in tennis... again. ... The Spaniards and the Argentines start winning rounds. ... Although you hit like an ox, it always comes back. ... You see players hit their shoes with their rackets... again. ... It takes you a few hours to realise there’s no Hawk-Eye. ... You need to shake your white socks before putting them in the washing machine. ... Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome, Paris. You are kind of aware of Europe, but you are mostly aware of the tournament schedule. ... You can finally get your beige shorts and polo-neck out of the closet. ... You wonder, as always, if the player is showing the right mark with his racket or if he’s playing the ref for a fool. ... You spare a thought for the Renshaw twins, William and Ernest, former players known to have created the first clay court at Cannes in 1880. ... Trees blossom. Drop shots too. ... You see the courts of your club occupied by non-members of your club. ... You think about Andrei Medvedev, Fernando Meligeni and Alex Corretja. ... You start to hit underarm serves, once again! ... You start watching a game, and you never really know when it will end. ... Novak Djokovic can start slipping without you thinking he has wheels on his trainers. Yes, like kids. ... You know it's nearly the end of football and the start of cycling. ... You feel for the people of Munich, Estoril, Fes and Stuttgart. The “Forgotten Ones” of clay. ... You start wondering: "Who is going to be able to beat Nadal?" Then you get a grip. … Players start wearing caps, girls hats, other spectators glasses, Toni Nadal his Iberostar thing. Oh, it's a cap? ... Manacor becomes the world capital of tennis. … You think you could have gone pro and you imagine yourself out with the players, even though you need handicap points. ... Nostalgic, you remember your Virtua Tennis days when you tried to become a clay-court master but, in fact, the surface did not change anything at all. ... You see Nadal on Skysports news pulling his pants out of his bum between each shot. ... Your non-tennis mates ask you to hit with them. ... You see that the clay courts of your club in maintenance. ... You go see the girls do the splits, then get up and think that you… you would probably have been stuck. ... You try to grip the racket like Berasategui and you get wrist tendinitis after just one game. ... You start seeing tournaments where at the entry of the court you can read the sign: «Use the drag mat at the end of your game, sweep the lines and water (if necessary)» ... You think that it would have been much harder for Gustavo Kuerten to show his love for Wimbledon spectators.   By Swann Borsellino and Jérémy Francisco