Roger Federer speaks five languages but is still most fluent in tennis. When he obliged the organisers by talking up the Rome Masters before the tournament got down to serious business at the Foro Italico, the Swiss borrowed from another argot, American Jock, to describe the danger presented by Rafael Nadal.
The great clay-courter, he said, "has been on a tear these last five years", referring to Nadal's blinding consistency at the highest level, particularly on his favourite surface. A "tear", if you were looking the other way during the Super Bowl, is a streak or run, an unstoppable surge past, through and over all opposition — except, in the case of Nadal (if the Swiss can help it), Federer himself.
He went on to point out that Nadal rarely loses big matches to anyone outside the top five, before sliding in the dagger.
"I suppose he is the No1 on clay." He supposes right and the sledge-hammer sub-text, in any language, is that Nadal should not relax, especially as he is in the same side of the draw as Federer.
Djokovic starts Rome Masters in style
World number two Novak Djokovic made a stylish start to his Rome Masters campaign, blowing away Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-1 in just under an hour to reach the third round on Tuesday.
The Serb, the 2008 Rome champion, gave Chardy a torrid time on his serve and produced some stunning cross-court winners in a performance that should raise his morale after a low-key start to the season.
Somdev, Yuki slip in rankings
Both Somdev Devvarman (111) and Yuki Bhambri (322) have lost a position each in the latest ATP singles ranking.
Prakash Amritraj slid to 216 after conceding 14 places.
However, seasoned pros Leander Paes (6) and Mahesh Bhupathi (7) had their doubles rankings unchanged. Rohan Bopanna, who has been doing well of late on the doubles circuit, also remained static on 60.
Meanwhile, in the WTA circuit, newly wed Sania Mirza gained a place to sit at 92 in singles and had her doubles ranking intact at 53.