Justin updated his blog and says the Americans skipping Euro clay is A-OK
Finally, somebody who sees reason.
Here's part of his comments:
There are two things that prevent the top Americans from participating in this and many other important clay-court events preceding and following this week: the surface itself and the duration of the European stretch of tournaments, from clay season to Wimbledon, the end of grass-court season. [. . .]
I don't think there's anything wrong with this. It's important to develop all-around games, and we all could benefit from spending more time in Europe on clay, learning about the intricacies of sliding, court positioning and shot selection. However, with the ATP calendar as full as it is, and with the tennis season already 10 months long, it's important to find breaks in the schedule to rest as well.
Since the European clay season is the least successful for Americans, it's a logical time to take a brief respite. It's identical to some of the clay specialists taking their breaks during grass season and the beginning of the U.S. summer hard-court stretch. Tennis is too challenging, physically and mentally, to go the whole year without some calculated breaks.
Thank you, Justin. I'm glad I'm not the only one who shrugs when the Americans don't show up at MC.