Kerber is a fine player, no doubt. But her lack of one fallback weapon was her downfall in Cincinnati on Sunday. *Time out: Yes, I also recognize that she just won the silver medal in Brazil and might be a tad tired, and I recognize that she played that match under the weight of knowing that all she had to do was win it and she would be the best player in the world. What I am about to note is still true regardless of all of that. Time in.* It's clear that Karolina Pliskova, at least this week, had some huge groundstrokes that Kerber was literally fighting off on her knees. A valiant effort, but when Kerber faces off against power players who are hitting their targets, it totally takes away her game, which is the ball-machine approach -- get everything back. She's very good at that. It's why she beat Serena Williams in Australia. Serena wasn't ready to work that hard, but when your opponent plays the way Plishkova did, and you don't have a backup plan, well, you get handled pretty efficiently.
Having said all of that, big-ups to Kerber for showing up after the Olympics and advancing to the final. Same to Andy Murray. There are times in pro tennis when the dominant player of the time stumbles, even briefly, and leaves a small window of opportunity. Many times, there isn't anyone able to step in and take advantage. With Novak Djokovic on the sidelines right now, the opportunist is Murray. He has made himself the player to beat right now, and although he also lost in the Cincinnati final Sunday, to Marin Cilic, he should feel very good about his chances at the U.S. Open (in less than a week!).
Another major development in Cincinnati was the first tournament for Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza -- with new partners. Hingis had Coco Vandeweghe and Mirza's new partner is Barbora Strycova. (Now, sizing up these new partners is a push. Both Coco and Strycova have huge chips on their backs, but due to sheer age, I'll say Strycova's is bigger.) Naturally, they both ended up in the final, and if you were lucky enough to be in Cincinnati, you saw what seemed to be a tight match with Mirza/Strycova taking the title. If you weren't, you had to follow some live-score website to find out who won.
Which is going to bring me head-on into my rant-o-the-week. Again. Most tennis fans who play play doubles. Why is it so hard to get doubles on TV? I'd watch it. The folks on Twitter on Sunday moaning about not being able to see this match anywhere would watch it. What's it going to take to get doubles the love it deserves. Rafael Nadal just won Olympic gold, if your answer is "big names." Martina Hingis is one of the best doubles players around, if your answer is "dubs is boring." If you're reading this, I am about to embark on a crusade to get doubles on TV more often. All I need is a good hashtag, because everyone knows that nothing gets done anymore without a good hashtag. So let's brainstorm bombard the networks with some pressure, all right?! Seriously, though, I'm gonna need some help because all I got right now is #makedoublesgreatagain, which is obviously a nonstarter.