It has been a long time since there was any competitive action in the tennis world but the ATP Tour is finally set to make its long-awaited comeback at the Western & Southern Open, starting on Friday.
World number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Daniil Medvedev headline the field for the tournament, which has been moved from its normal Cincinnati venue to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
The Western & Southern Open will act as preparation for the 2020 US Open, which runs from August 31 to September 13, although a host of players have decided to swerve the Grand Slam due to concerns over Covid-19.
All-time record Grand Slam holder Roger Federer and Spanish star Rafael Nadal have both decided against a trip to New York, while Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini will also be absent.
Djokovic Targets US Open Glory
Despite some of the big names pulling out, there is still huge anticipation ahead of the US Open and Djokovic will be going all out to land his 18th Grand Slam title, which would put him put him one behind Nadal and two adrift of Federer.
The Serbian is a three-time winner at Flushing Meadows, having triumphed in 2011, 2015 and 2018, and he will be looking for his third victory of 2020 after victories at the Australian Open and Dubai Championships.
After a long deliberation whether to take part in the US Open, Djokovic confirmed he would be present, saying: “It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides.
“But the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.”
Clay-court Season Revamped
Following the US Open, the ATP Tour will move into a modified clay-court season, with the Generali Open in Austria kicking things off in September before the Masters 1000 event in Rome.
The Hamburg European Open is next up on the schedule before the rescheduled French Open, which gets underway on September 27, rounds off the clay-court section of the campaign.
When announcing the changes back in June, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “Our objective has been to reschedule as many tournaments as possible and salvage as much of the season as we can.
“It has been a truly collaborative effort, and we hope to add more events to the calendar as the situation evolves.”
Russia Kicks Off Hard-Court Campaign
Moving into October for the hard-court season and the St. Petersburg Open is first up on the agenda, with the Russian event running from the 12th to the 18th, before the Kremlin Cup then takes centre stage in the same country.
The European Open and the Erste Bank Open are the final two tournaments that month, with the Tour then heading back to Paris in November for the Rolex Paris Masters.
Bulgaria then hosts the Sofia Open before the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, which take place in London from November 15-22.