Western & Southern Open’s Uncertain Future Is No Djok

While Charlotte places a bid to host in 2024, Cincinnatians show their love for tourney

By Michael Daley

Nineteen year old American tennis phenom Coco Gauff steamrolled her way through the women’s singles competition at the Western and Southern Open in Mason, Ohio. Gauff won 10 out of 11 sets throughout the tournament, only dropping a set to Polish world number one Iga Swiatek in the semifinals before taking care of business in straight sets against Karolina Muchova of Czechia in the championship match. 

This was Gauff’s fifth career title, which elevates her to world number six in the rankings just ahead of the U.S. Open in the upcoming weeks. Gauff will hope to carry her momentum into the U.S. Open to secure her first Grand Slam title and work her way back up to her career high ranking of fourth. 

Founded in 1899, the Western & Southern Open is America’s oldest tennis tournament and has only been held five times outside of the Cincinnati area. However, the city of Charlotte has approved a bid of up to 65 million dollars for the tournament and is willing to build an entirely new facility to host the world-renowned competition.

With the Western and Southern Open’s future in Cincinnati in question, Gauff shared her admiration for the event, referring to the large improvements made on the facilities for the players. During her trophy celebration, Gauff said she looks forward to competing in the Western and Southern Open again and “hopefully in Cincinnati.”

With the support of Gauff and more than 1,300 volunteers working the event, the future appears positive for Cincinnati’s future hosting the Western & Southern Open. There were new records set in attendance throughout the week, including the opening weekend with more than 38,000 tickets sold. 

On the men’s side of the tournament, world number two and now three — time Western & Southern Open champion — Novak Djokovic defeated the 20 year old world number one Carlos Alcaraz in a match spanning near four hours in the final. This match came just over a month after their five set, four hour and 42 minute match in the Wimbledon final in which Alcaraz prevailed. All eyes will be on the U.S. Open for a potential rematch in the final in what is quickly becoming one of the most popular rivalries in sports. In light of the retirments of Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal, matches between the Wimbeldon men’s finalists are duels used to coronate tennis’s premier athelte from week to week.

Male American players  saw little success in the tournament with only world number nine Taylor Fritz, who was seeded ninth in the tournament, reaching the quarterfinals before being dispatched in one hour and one minute by eventual champion Djokovic.

Female American competitors had a complete sweep of the event with the aforementioned Gauff winning the singles title and doubles team Alycia Parks and Taylor Townsend taking home the women’s doubles title over compatriot Nicole Malichar-Martinez and her Australian partner Ellen Perez.

Cincinnati locals JJ Wolf and Payton Stearns both saw first round exits in singles, while Stearns advanced to the round of 16 in the women’s doubles bracket.