USTA moving forward with plans for “Cincinnati” and US Open

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The USTA continues to come out with statements in hopes of reassuring the tennis world that the Western & Southern Open and US Open will take place. Its most recent confirmation of the schedule came on Friday.

The ATP Tour has suffered cancellation after cancellation dating back to March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At least for now, however, the Western & Southern Open and the US Open have not succumbed to the same fate as just about every other tournament.

Amidst widespread speculation that those events might ultimately be cancelled, as well, the USTA put forth a statement on Friday indicating that the pair is still on schedule to be hosted at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center starting in late August.

“The USTA continues its plans to stage the US Open and host both the US Open and the Western Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” it reads. “We remain confident that our top priority, the health and safety of all involved in both tournaments, remains on track. Working with our Medical Advisory Group and security team and the State of New York, we have developed a strong health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of infection within the contained environment comprised of the tournament site and player hotels. New York State continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the COVID-19 virus. Details of this health and safety plan will be released at a later date closer to the tournaments. In all aspects of health and safety, and the viability of travel to the New York area, the USTA has worked collaboratively with the WTA and the ATP.”

The Western & Southern Open is a Masters 1000 event that is normally held in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, the USTA announced earlier this summer that only feasible way for the tournament to survive in 2020 is moving it to the “bubble” in New York City – where it can be played back-to-back with the US Open. The Western & Southern Open is scheduled to take place at the BJKNTC from August 22-28. Immediately thereafter, the US Open is set for an Aug. 31-Sept. 13 timeframe.

Whereas the WTA is returning next week in Palermo, Italy, the ATP had been planning for an Aug. 13 restart with the Citi Open in Washington, DC. On July 21, though, the DC event was also scrapped.

Naturally, fans feared that the DC cancellation spelled imminent doom for “Cincinnati” and the US Open. But the USTA was quick to come out with a reassuring statement.

“Though unfortunate, the USTA understands the rationale for cancelling the Citi Open at this time,” it wrote on the same day, July 21. “This decision in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open…. We constantly base our decisions regarding hosting these tournaments on our three guiding principles that include safety and health of all involved, whether hosting these events are in the best interest in the sport of tennis and whether this decision is financially viable. We are confident we remain in-line with all three guiding principles.”

“Confident” probably isn’t the right word for anything these days. Not even the players are confident in the safety of traveling to the United States and playing in an international tennis tournament. The initial entry list for the Western & Southern Open is jam-packed with big starts, but WTA World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has already announced that she is withdrawing from both events. Stan Wawrinka is among the men who are not playing “Cincinnati,” although he has not yet withdrawn from the US Open.

No, there is not much confidence for the success of any tennis tournament right now. Nonetheless, the chances of the Western & Southern Open and US Open actually happening are still alive…for now.

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