The hard-court tournament in the nation's capital that was supposed to mark the official return of men's professional tennis amid the pandemic was scrapped Tuesday – but the group in charge of the U.S. Open immediately said the tuneup's cancellation “in no way impacts” its Grand Slam event.
The Citi Open, scheduled to start with Aug. 13 qualifying, was called off because of what tournament manager Mark Ein said are “too many unresolved external issues, including various international travel restrictions as well as troubling health and safety trends.”
The number of coronavirus cases has been spiking in spots throughout the United States.
Calling the cancellation of the Washington tournament “disappointing,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “Unfortunately for the moment, there are still large factors at play, which are outside of our control.”
The men's and women's pro tours both have been suspended since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak and have been eyeing a return to action next month. The first event on the most recently announced version of the sport's 2020 slate is a women's clay-court tournament in Palermo, Italy, starting Aug. 3, and WTA spokeswoman Amy Binder said Tuesday that tour's “provisional calendar remains on course to proceed at this time.”
"Our current approach to the season is to provide opportunities where possible irrespective of travel restrictions," Binder wrote in an email, "so that as many players that do have the ability and desire to travel can compete during this unique and difficult time."
With Washington's ATP stop, where Nick Kyrgios was the champion last year, now gone, the first chance for men to play sanctioned matches will be the Masters-level event usually played in Cincinnati that was moved to the site of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, starting Aug. 22.
That is to be followed by the U.S. Open, where main-draw play is due to begin Aug. 31 without any spectators. The next Grand Slam tournament will be the clay-court French Open, which postponed its start from late May to late September because of the pandemic.
After the ATP and Citi Open announced the decision to abandon plans to play this year, the U.S. Tennis Association put out a statement saying it “understands the rationale” behind that cancellation.
The USTA's statement continued: “This decision in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open. The USTA will create a safe and controlled environment for players and everyone else involved in both tournaments that mitigates health risks.”