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Seen and Heard: Sitting next to Schiavone

• You never know who you'll bump into in the Wimbledon village.

Most of the players, and their entourages, bypass hotels in west London, opting for rented homes or apartments in the village that are walking distance from the All England Club.

Tuesday, French Open champion Francesca Schiavone sat at the table next to us while enjoying some, what else, French food. She was in good spirits despite exiting in the first round.

• Is it me, or are more players than usual slipping on the grass?

Roger Federer, so sure of his footing, no matter what the surface, slid on several occasions against pesky Colombian Alejandro Falla on Monday. Rafael Nadal hit the deck no fewer than three times versus flashy Japanese Kei Nishikori in his opener, while Andy Roddick took a nasty looking fall in his tough victory over Frenchman Michael Llodra on Wednesday.

ESPN analyst Darren Cahill, making a brief pit stop to the practice courts, said it was nothing out of the ordinary.

"I actually think the courts haven't been that slippery at all," Cahill said, looking dapper in a dark T-shirt and shades. "Normally the courts are really lush the first few days, you have the greenness of the grass, and it's normally pretty difficult to move around the first three or four days at Wimbledon. Normally then they dry out with play."

There you have it.

• Nadal was back practicing, again with good buddy and occasional doubles partner Marc Lopez.

At one stage, Uncle Toni stood at the side of the court, feeding Rafa, positioned on the baseline, drop shots. He sprinted forward, Lopez across the net, with the drill lasting a few minutes.

Getting ready for Roger, maybe?

It was a family affair for Nadal. Uncle Toni's two young boys clowned around with the world No. 1, and the group posed for extended photos near the entrance to the practice venue.

• It looked so secretive.

A police constable wandered through the practice venue holding a covered article as a middle-aged woman accompanied him. They placed the object beside a seated Igor Andreev, who raised (slightly) an eyebrow. The Russian is so laid-back.

The item proved to be a 24-inch sculpture of Rafa in a pose captured during his win over Federer in the 2008 final. Creator Louise Simson later presented Nadal with the piece, which will be worth GBP;5,000 pounds when ready.

Simson, an archaeologist by trade, has been making sculptures of the men's winner and finalist at Wimbledon since watching Goran Ivanisevic beat Patrick Rafter in the epic 2001 final.

"I think they love them," Simson, a London resident, said.

Indeed, Nadal said it was very nice.

• Nadal's next opponent might be ranked 151st, but he's handled himself well against a Wimbledon champion before. Dutchman Robin Haase took Lleyton Hewitt to five sets two years ago in his Wimbledon debut.

"Even though it was 6-2 in the fifth, I was up 2-1 and had two break points, so if I take the break there you never know what happens," Haase said after practicing with countryman Thiemo de Bakker.

The joy quickly turned to misery.

Not long afterward, Haase underwent knee surgery and was sidelined for a year and a half. As high as 56th in 2008, his ranking plummeted to 673 in November.

What does he make of Rafa?

"Of course, it's no secret I'd rather play someone else in the second round," Haase said. "I'll do my best, like I always do. Let's start with a set, and hopefully more. I hope I play good and show the people that I can still play. And, of course, it's wonderful to play on Center Court here. I mean, you always want to win, but I will enjoy it for sure."