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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, June 2, 2020

 
Novak Djokovic

The USTA is proposing playing the Cincinnati Masters—the Western & Southern Open—at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows right before the US Open.

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open Cincy Tennis Facebook

The Queen City tournament could be coming to Queens.

The USTA is proposing playing the Cincinnati Masters—the Western & Southern Open—at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows right before the US Open. The Western & Southern Open is set for August 17th-23rd, while the US Open main draw is scheduled for August 31st-September 13th.

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The plan, reported by The New York Times' Christopher Clarey, would create a doubleheader of a Masters and Slam in succession to salvage the North American hard-court season decimated by the coronavirus crisis.

The ATP and WTA, which jointly extended suspension of the pro circuit until at least the start of August, are currently considering the USTA's proposal. Both Tours must approve the plan in order for Cincinnati to move to New York. 

If it happens, it's likely both tournaments will be played behind closed doors without spectators permitted in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.




New York City has been the epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Indoor tennis courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were converted to a temporary hospital to treat coronavirus patients, many who were transferred from nearby Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

It's uncertain if New York City and state officials are on board with the plan given the city is still largely in lockdown due to the virus. Protestors demonstrating against racial injustice and the killing of George Floyd have flooded the streets of New York City for the past week. 

Given New York City's turbulent current state will players even feel safe playing the Flushing Meadows major?

The White Plains, N.Y.-based Tennis Association owns the men's event in Cincinnati while Octagon owns the women's event.

Tennis Express

The plan calls for both tournaments to be staged in Queens to try to ensure health for players and staff by creating a safety zone and minimizing travel requirements.

The USTA proposal is similar to the approach professional sports leagues are taking.

World TeamTennis announced it will play its entire season at one site—the Greenbrier in West Virginia—over 19 consecutive days July 12th-30th. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is considering resuming the pro basketball season  at one venue: the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida, the AP reports.

Even if the ATP and WTA approve the plan, tour officials told the Times quarantine rules could require some players to self-isolate after arriving in the United States. Self-isolation would be required again upon return to the players' home country, though the Times reports "those requirements could be changed for athletes."

 

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