Washington D.C.'s Citi Open will signify the start of the return of professional men's tennis this August.
The annual tournament held at Rock Creek Park will be the ATP's first event since the outbreak of the coronavirus. A pandemic that has canceled the 2020 Wimbledon championships and postponed the French Open to late fall for the first time ever has put the event at a unique spot.
The 2020 Citi Open will be held August 13-21, two weeks later than the originally scheduled event that was set for August 1-9. It will be one of only two events for the men leading up to the U.S. Open at the end of August.
As of Wednesday's announcement, the WTA has not included the Citi Open in their return-to-play plans. However, the Citi Open is still engaged with the sanctioning body to hold a women's event the same week.
The WTA is returning a week prior on August 3 at the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy. August 10-21 is listed as TBD on their official calendar.
Current preparations are for D.C.'s tournament to be held without fans. Organizers are optimistic, though, that the limitation could change before August. Last year shattered several attendance and ticket records with the tournament falling under new managing ownership.
"The tournament is working closely with local officials on the health and safety plan in order to secure all the necessary permits and approvals for the event," the release stated. "The current plan is for the Citi Open to host this year's tournament without fans in attendance, but officials remain optimistic that as the region continues its phased reopening, and conditions improve, they may be granted permission to allow limited fans onsite. "
The U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows has already announced there will not be fans or media on-site.
Managing owner Mark Ein told NBC Sports Washington back in April that these circumstances could lead to an unprecedented player field this year. No player - not even Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams or Naomi Osaka - has played competitively since March (or earlier).
With only the Citi Open and the Western and Southern Open being the two tournaments leading up to a major, the top players have to get back to playing shape at those events. The popular Rogers Cup in Toronto was canceled as the schedule was re-constructed, omitting one of the top-tier lead-ups to the Grand Slam tournament.
On the men's side, Rock Creek Park has always been a top destination for male tennis players. Legends Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick won titles in D.C. and the venue has consistently attracted multiple top-10 players each year.
Health and safety concerns do remain an issue for the players as the United States is the worst affected country for the coronavirus. Defending men's champion Nick Kyrgios has been openly critical of restarting and the collaboration of the ATP and the players.
Cheers mate, you've really looked after the players during this time. Seriously 🤦🏽♂️ fk me, how about you have a collaborative effort with us, potato https://t.co/6CWQ9vuNGa
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 17, 2020
Smh - people that live in the US of course are pushing the Open to go ahead 🤦🏽♂️ ‘Selfish' I'll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for 2 weeks on my return.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 16, 2020
It is anticipated that other top-tier players will not participate in some or all of these events. However, Ein says that several of the world's top players have been in contact with the event.
The qualifying tournament of the Citi Open will be held on August 13 and 14 with the main draw starting on the 14th. Tennis Channel will cover the entirety of the tournament.
Citi Open to kick off professional men's tennis restart on August 13 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington