There had been rumblings the last week that the Citi Open, scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. as the official restart of the ATP Tour Aug. 14, would not go forward in 2020.
Tuesday morning, tournament chairman Mark Ein confirmed it in a statement.
Beyond the absolute hoops that the ATP events will have to go through – safety and virus-prevention wise – to fulfill all of the requirements the Tour has necessarily set out to try to hold tournaments in confidence, there are the obvious issues of players travelling to the U.S. right now.
While acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf, himself a former junior college tennis player, issued an order back in May saying that most professional athletes and their families would be allowed into the country, the problem is … leaving.
But there still is no confirmation that the athletes would not have to self-quarantine upon arrivel.
In many cases, players who need to make the quick turnaround back to Europe for what the pro tours hope is a fall clay-court circuit through Spain, Italy and then Paris for the French Open might find themselves having to self-isolate for 14 days.
And that would preclude them from taking part in one or more of the events there.
As well, with the health situation not getting any better in the U.S., the Citi Open had to make a decision about whether to go ahead and spend all the money required to set up the event site.
That’s not an insignificant sum – especially in a year where there would be no fans allowed, and the commensurate drastic drop in revenue.
“When we committed to host the event all the trends were going in our favor, and halfway through the process they all reversed,” Ein told the New York Times. “Then we ran out of time. With a little more time we may have been able to overcome the obstacles that were in front of us, but it’s better to make a decision for all the stakeholders before it gets to the last minute.”
What of Lexington, Queens?
Given that, you have to think that the WTA event, relocated to Lexington, Kentucky this year as it proved too difficult to come to terms with the Citi Open to continue as a joint event under the circumstances, is also in some trouble.
Serena Williams had signed on to play it – which would have been the biggest tennis thing to hit Kentucky, probably ever.
The WTA Tour plans two small clay-court events in Palermo, Sicily the week of Aug. 3 and then in Prague, Czech Republic the following week. But the situation is far less dire in Europe compared to the disaster that’s currently taking place in the U.S.
And what of the “Cincinnati” – US Open combination, which is to be held in a very protective bubble in Flushing Meadows?
That will be the next question. It should be answered fairly soon.
US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster told the New York Times that their plans remain on track.
A statement released indicates the cancellation of the Citi Open does not affect their plans.
Ein himself told the Times that he thinks the European events will go ahead. And as far as the U.S. Open is concerned, the ticking clock might even help to get the details of the players’ travel requirements confirmed.
“I do think the European events are definitely going to happen, and I think the U.S. Open has a really good chance to happen,” Ein told the Times. “I think our cancellation could accelerate the resolution of those immigration issues. I think that’s going to make it a focus. You can’t figure these things out the week before the event.”
Of course, acting Secretary Wolf is focused on … other things at the moment.
As it stands right now, with the entry deadline for the relocated “Cincinnati” tournament pushed back to next Monday, only four of the current WTA top 10 are entered in Cincinnati and the US Open: Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin, Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams.