The Cincinnati Open (also known as the Cincinnati Masters and currently branded as the Western & Southern Open for sponsorship reasons) is an annual professional tennis event held in Cincinnati, United States. It is played on outdoor hard courts at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, and is held in August. The event started on September 18, 1899, and is the oldest tennis tournament in the United States still played in its original city.
The tournament was started in 1899 as the Cincinnati Open and was renamed in 1901 to Tri-State Tennis Tournament, a name it would keep until 1969 (it would later be known by several other names, including ATP Championships), and would eventually grow into the tournament now held in Mason. The original tournament was held at the Avondale Athletic Club, which sat on property that is now Xavier University, and would later be moved to several various locations due to changes in tournament management and surfaces. The first tournament in 1899 was played on clay courts (described in a newspaper article of the time as "crushed brick dust"), and the event was mostly played on clay until 1979 when it switched to hardcourts.
In 1903, the tournament was moved to the Cincinnati Tennis Club, where it was primarily held until 1972. In 1974, the tournament was nearly dropped from the tennis calendar but moved at the last moment to the Cincinnati Convention Center, where it was played indoors and, for the first time since 1919, without a women's draw. In 1975, the tournament moved to the Coney Island amusement park on the Ohio River, and the tournament began to gain momentum again.
In 1979 the tournament moved to Mason where a permanent stadium was built and the surface was changed from Har-Tru clay to hardcourt (DecoTurf II.). Later, two other permanent stadia were constructed, making Cincinnati the only tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slam events with three stadium courts – Center Court, Grandstand Court and Court 3. A new Court 3 was built in 2010, increasing the number of stadium courts to four, with the existing Court 3 renamed Court 9. The women's competition was reinstated in 1988 for one year, and then again in 2004 when the organizers, with the help of the Octagon sports agency, bought the Croatian Bol Ladies Open and moved it to Cincinnati.
In 2002, the tournament was sponsored for the first time by Western & Southern Financial Group, with the company continuing its sponsorship until at least 2016. In 2011 the men's and women's tournaments were played in the same week, and the name changed from the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open to the Western & Southern Open.
In 2022, the tournament was sold by the USTA to Ben Navarro's Beemok Capital; in 2023, the tournament proposed an additional $22.5 million in state funding to help cover a proposed $150 million expansion to the Lindner Family Tennis Center, which included plans for the Cincinnati Open to expand to a 12-day format with a 96-player draw (joining the Indian Wells Open, Madrid Open, and Miami Open) and add additional programming. In May 2023, rumors emerged that Beemok was considering relocating the tournament to a proposed $400 million tennis complex in Charlotte, North Carolina. Beemok denied that relocation was being considered, stating, "We've had productive conversations with state and local representatives in Mason and the surrounding area and have made considerable efforts to develop a potential master plan to expand the event in its current location." In June 2023, the city proposed a $15 million commitment and other economic incentives to keep the tournament in Mason, while State Senator Steve Wilson proposed a $25 million contribution and a $1 billion "super-capital improvement fund" for a state budget proposal. In October 2023, Beemok announced that the tournament will remain in Mason and that it be expanding the event to a 12-day format for both men and women, with the draws expanding from 56 to 96 players beginning in 2025.
In 1975, the tournament reins were taken by Paul M. Flory, then an executive with Procter & Gamble. During his tenure, the tournament enriched its considerable heritage while donating millions of dollars to charity: to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Tennis for City Youth (a program to teach tennis to inner-city children), and to The Charles M. Barrett Cancer Center at University Hospital. Flory was honored with the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, enshrinement in the USTA/Midwest Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame, and was named one of the Great Living Cincinnatians by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Flory began his involvement as a volunteer with the tournament in the late 1960s and remained a volunteer until the end, never accepting a salary. Flory, who was born on May 31, 1922, died on January 31, 2013, remaining tournament chairman until his final day.
The tournament is played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio. It features a total of 17 courts, including four tennis stadiums—Center Court, Grandstand Court, Court 3, and Court 9 (formerly known as Court 3)—and among the few venues (e.g. the Madrid Open) other than Grand Slams with more than two permanent stadiums.
In 2009, the tennis tournament announced a $10 million upgrade to the facility, including the construction of a 52,000-square-foot (4,800 m2) West Building to add space for players, media and fans. The new building, which opened in mid-2010 and is named the Paul M. Flory Player Center, is approximately twice as high as the previous West Building, rising 85 feet (26 m) above ground level and 97 feet (30 m) above the court level.
In 2010, the tournament announced plans to expand the grounds by more than 40% and add six new courts. One of those courts is Court 3, which serves as the third television court, while another court has seating for 2,500. A new ticket office, entry plaza, food court and exhibit areas also were added.
Because of intentional design choices for the Lindner Family Tennis Center, the Cincinnati Open is known as one of the more intimate environments for player-fan interaction. The layout of the facility promotes fan interaction as players walk from court to court among the fans, and the tournament publicizes player practice times on the numerous courts.
^The 1979 men's competition, despite being named the 1979 ATP Championships was a non-Grand Prix event not bringing any ATP ranking points and was run as a rival event to the 1979 U.S. Pro Tennis Championships in Boston.
^Known as Championship Series, Single Week from 1990 till 1995, Super 9 from 1996 till 1999 and Masters Series from 2000 till 2008.
Roger Federer has won the most Cincinnati Open titles, and out of eight finals, he possesses seven titles; his last being won in 2015, defeating future three-time champion Novak Djokovic in the final. It was at this tournament, in 2018, that Djokovic became the first player to win the Golden Masters (winning all 9 masters). Djokovic then completed this again in 2020 for the double Golden Masters.