Madrid | Lopez comes up with a ‘virtual’ tournament

The Mutua Madrid Open, an ATP 1000 Masters and a WTA Premier Mandator event, due to be played May 5-10 but cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, is to be revived as a ‘virtual’ event via the Tennis World Tour videogame to be played between 27th and 30th April.

We have organised a tournament for the professional players that is as true to the conventional Mutua Madrid Open as possible without them having to leave their homes Feliciano Lopez

The online tennis tournament, which has yet to confirm participants, will have 16 men’s and women’s singles players in each draw and offer a purse of 150,000 euros (£132,137) for both.

The players will be playing from their own homes on a PlayStation and the winners will decide how much of their winnings will be donated to their lower ranked tennis professionals who will be sharing 50,000 euros (£44,000) from the organisers themselves in a bid to relieve some of the pressure they are suffering because of the shutdown.

Alongside the official competition, more funds will be raised from charity matches that will see some big names from the gaming world face professional tennis players.

Both the men’s and women’s governing bodies have welcomed this to help the lower-tier professionals.

“Since we announced that the Mutua Madrid Open would not take place on the dates planned, we have been working on ideas for bringing tennis to the fans,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez said.

“The birth of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro highlights the tournament’s technological, youthful and innovative side, which has been one of its hallmarks since it began in 2009 and it is fitting for the current circumstances.

“We have organised a tournament for the professional players that is as true to the conventional Mutua Madrid Open as possible without them having to leave their homes — and its goal is not just to entertain; we want to do our bit during this period, which is so difficult for everyone.”

WTA CEO Steve Simon said “The WTA would like to thank and recognise the event for putting this initiative together. We look forward to the virtual game, which can serve as a fun source of entertainment while at the same helping to bridge a gap until live tennis returns, while also providing opportunities to help those players in need during this challenging time.”

The players will be divided into two draws in four groups with the group winners and runners-up moving into the knockout stages to play through the quarter, semi and final.

The players have yet to be announced. Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens are the 2019 champions but so far they have not committed to a ‘virtual defence’ of their respective titles.






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