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Annual American clay crucible begins

Originally Published: April 14, 2009
By Kamakshi Tandon | Special to ESPN.com

For hard-court natives, playing on clay can be like playing on another planet. The ball travels more slowly, bounces higher and spins wildly, as if a different force of gravity were at work. The surface is alien -- slippery and granular, depositing little poofs of red dust on white socks.

It's no secret that the recent generation of American men, raised on asphalt, have usually struggled to adjust. The opening day of the U.S. Clay Court Championships in Houston last week ...

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