Who's coming to NYC? For now, Djokovic, Nadal and Serena are lined up

Who's coming to NYC? For now, Djokovic, Nadal and Serena are lined up

Ten former Western & Southern Open champions highlighted the initial fields for the relocated Cincinnati event, but names like Halep, Osaka and Wawrinka were missing in action.

For weeks, there have been rumblings about which international tennis players would make a trip to New York and enter the USTA’s two-tournament bubble. On Wednesday, the tennis world received its first official glimpse when the Western & Southern Open—moved from Cincinnati to create a doubleheader at Flushing Meadows with the US Open—released its entry list.

Ten former event champions highlighted the initial fields, led by Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Williams, in particular, is lined up for a busy August.

The 23-time major title holder is set to play the week of August 10 at the WTA’s first event in Kentucky, Lexington’s Top Seed Open, and previously had the US Open’s new Laykold surface sent to her home for training. Djokovic also had signs pointing to his participation in the Big Apple, seen practicing on hard courts at Janko Tipsarevic’s Academy in Belgrade and ordering the official US Open ball in preparation.

Although entered, Nadal remains a significant question mark. The left-hander has been training on clay, been confirmed by Feliciano Lopez to be entered in Madrid—which begins immediately after the US Open—and will be permitted to retain his 2019 US Open champion points for another year as part of the ATP's revised ranking structure.

With neither tour penalizing players for withdrawing from events, a lot could change in the coming weeks—such as Nadal's status—as players keep a close eye on COVID-19 trends in the U.S. and weigh pathways to their return on tour.

One example is Nick Kyrgios. The 25-year-old has publicly condemned his peers for not putting safety first, particularly those who competed in the Adria Tour. Australian states have tightened border restrictions throughout July to combat a potential second coronavirus wave, and Kyrgios has not participated in any exhibition events since March’s shutdown. Grigor Dimitrov, who topped Kyrgios in the 2017 Western & Southern Open final, also entered, but appears unlikely to go through with playing. Last weekend, the Bulgarian discussed the physical struggles he has endured since testing positive for COVID-19 following his Adria Tour appearance.

Notably absent from the Western & Southern Open entries included three of the WTA's four current Grand Slam champions: world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty (2019 French Open), world No. 2 Simona Halep (2019 Wimbledon) and world No. 6 Bianca Andreescu, the reigning US Open winner. Halep was due to headline the WTA’s reopening next week in Palermo, a clay-court tournament, but pulled out amidst travel anxieties and Romania’s rise in coronavirus cases. Two-time major champion Naomi Osaka and three-time men’s Slam holder Stan Wawrinka were among the other players who opted out. Those not signed up could still compete by requesting a wild card as the event nears.

Other former Cincinnati winners included the defending champions Daniil Medvedev and Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Marin Cilic, Karolina Pliskova and Kiki Bertens. The tournament is scheduled to begin August 20 with qualifying, where 12 players will advance to each respective main draw, and as of today, includes 30 combined Top 20 players (16 ATP, 14 WTA).

Who will remain in this year's 21 & Under Club, and which new players will join them?

Find out all week on TENNIS.com and Baseline.

Monday, July 27: Sofia Kenin | Monday, July 27: Elena Rybakina | Monday, July 27: Alex de Minaur, Dayana Yastremska, Casper Ruud | Tuesday, July 28: Stefanos Tsitsipas | Tuesday, July 28: Thiago Seyboth Wild | Wednesday, July 29: Amanda Anisimova | Wednesday, July 29: Brandon Nakashima