— Erik Gudris (@ATNtennis) August 18, 2016
It’s been a tough week in Cincinnati. But even organizers weren’t expected it to be this tough.
The combined ATP and WTA event was already dealing with several big names not being in the draw before things got started. That included defending champion Roger Federer who is out for the rest of the season.
Then defending women’s champion Serena Williams, who surprised everyone when she accepted a wildcard into the event, proceeded to withdraw after one practice session on-site. Williams, who continues to deal with shoulder inflammation, now might see Angelique Kerber claim the WTA top ranking if the German wins the title outright.
Adding to the tourney’s woes, mother nature decided to play havoc with the schedule. Torrential rain on Monday and Tuesday cancelled many matches. As I write this, another rain delay is underway.
Away from the courts, the tournament’s parking lot – in this case the lawns of a nearby golf course – quickly turned into a soggy mud field equivalent almost to quicksand. That left many parked cars trapped in the mud. Drivers that thought their cars could maneuver through the mud soon found themselves, as I did, trapped as well. It was only with the help of several volunteers pushing my car that I finally made it out.
If drying courts with squeegees and pushing cars out of muddy fields were Olympic sports, the volunteers in Cincinnati would be medal contenders for the Summer Games in Tokyo next time.
Star names are the draw here in the Midwest. But fans have to hurry to see them before they exit. Rafael Nadal, admitting to being worn out after a week in Rio, barely managed to win four games against Borna Coric in their third round match. Coric himself retired due to injury in his next match to fellow Croatian Marin Cilic.
The women’s event has held up a bit better. In addition to Kerber, several top seeds remain including Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, and Agnieszka Radwanska.
With the US Open Summer Series coming to a close (though the opening event in Stanford felt like months ago) it’s hard to know if the results from this year’s North American hard court swing will matter come time for New York. The Olympics added basically another Major to the season.
Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig and silver medalist Juan Martin del Potro didn’t earn any points but certainly raised their profiles before the US Open. If they translate Olympic success into more in New York remains to be seen. Add in the lack of big names like Serena and Novak Djokovic not playing during the series as well, it ends up being one of those years that only happens every four years.
As I finish this post, a massive rainbow appeared over the stadium with bright sunshine in the distance. A sure reminder to everyone here at the Cincinnati tournament that despite a soggy start, and a rainy middle, a sunny ending including with a new No. 1 player just might be on the horizon.