Men’s tennis tournament in Washington is canceled

By Christopher Clarey

The Citi Open in Washington, which was scheduled to relaunch the men’s tennis tour next month, has been canceled for 2020.

The tournament was set to begin Aug. 14 and serve as a lead-in event for the U.S. Open. But Mark Ein, the Citi Open chairman, said concern about international travel restrictions and recent trends in the coronavirus had led to the cancellation.

The decision, made Monday, will increase doubts about this year’s U.S. Open, which is scheduled to be played without spectators in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.

But Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Open tournament director, reaffirmed Monday that plans remained on track for a doubleheader at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Western & Southern Open is to be played there from Aug. 22 to 28 as a prelude to the U.S. Open, with players and officials operating inside a health and safety “bubble” similar to those being used by the NBA and other leagues.

“We are all in,” Allaster said.

The Citi Open cancellation, which came in the week that the WNBA and Major League Baseball are planning to resume play, underscored the unusual challenges that professional tennis faces as an international sport that shifts venues and continents on a regular basis.

Because of the rise in coronavirus cases in the United States, the European Union is not allowing American travelers to enter. And although the United States is allowing foreign athletes to enter, there are lingering uncertainties about whether athletes would be required to quarantine upon arrival.

Although exhibitions are being staged regularly on a regional basis and World Team Tennis is being played at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, the regular men’s and women’s tours have been shut down since March.

The WTA Tour plans to be the first to resume with a clay-court event in Palermo, Italy, from Aug. 3 to Aug. 9. That will be followed by a clay-court event in Prague and a new hardcourt event, the Top Seed Open, in Lexington, Ky., from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 that already has commitments from Serena and Venus Williams.

But the ATP Tour has no plans to fill the gap left by the Citi Open’s cancellation. For now, its season will resume in New York with the Western & Southern Open, followed by the U.S. Open.

But those events, if they do take place, are uncertain to attract full-strength fields with some men’s players likely to remain in Europe and restart their seasons on clay. Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player, and Rafael Nadal, the reigning U.S. Open men’s singles champion, are among those considering that option.

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