As the starting date draws nearer, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro announced on Tuesday that Gael Monfils, Victoria Azarenka, Fabio Fognini and Madison Keys will take part in the pioneering tournament, which will replicate the tennis event in a virtual format where the best tennis players in the world will square off from their homes from 27 to 30 April. The players will swap their rackets for a PlayStation 4 to clash in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour videogame (Nacon Gaming).
Gael Monfils, currently the world number nine, enjoyed a spectacular start to the season, winning two titles (Montpellier and Rotterdam), giving him a total of ten titles in his career. Now, the 33-year-old Frenchman will start out as one of the favourites in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro thanks to his love of videogames.
“I have been playing a lot of videogames during the lockdown so I will be glad to meet up my fellow players again during the Tennis World Tour tournament organized by the Mutua Madrid Open”, said Monfils. “We will be back in competition mode but more importantly we will play for a great cause”.
Victoria Azarenka, ex-world number one and two-time Mutua Madrid Open finalist (2011 and 2012), will also play in the competition. The two-time Grand Slam winner, who has total of 20 WTA titles to her name, has accepted the challenge and will soon be bidding for victory in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro.
“I’m excited to play the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro this month and have an opportunity to compete against some of my fellow players virtually!”, admitted Azarenka. “It’s a great opportunity to still find some competition and I hope everyone will enjoy watching us compete”.
Fabio Fognini and Madison Keys will also be playing in the tournament. The Italian, who claimed the first Masters 1000 title of his career last year in Monte Carlo, currently sits at number 11 in the ATP Rankings. The US player, the world number 13, has five WTA titles and has also reached a Grand Slam final at the US Open in 2017.
Like the rest, they will both have the chance to help the tennis players most in need at this time, those that have no income to help them through these months of inactivity and those affected by Covid-19 in the pioneering online charity competition. The tournament will include a purse of 150,000 euros in both draws (ATP and WTA), from which the winners will be able to decide on how much they donate to the tennis players currently suffering economically, and 50,000 euros that will all go towards reducing the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m very curious about this new e-vent. I will try to do my best to win it but I have heard some of my colleagues are very good and are practicing hard”, recognized Fognini. “Let’s see who will come up on top! Great idea and initiative from the Madrid organisers”.
“I’m very excited to be participating the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro game”, said Keys. “It’s a great way to bring us players together and get some ‘competition’ in online while staying at home”.
The format for the Pro Virtual Mutua Madrid Open will be as follows: 16 singles players in each of two draws (ATP and WTA) initially divided into four groups. The champion of each group will progress to the quarter-finals, which will also include the runner-up of each group. From there (quarter-finals, semi-finals and final) the tournament will be played as a knock-out. In addition, in parallel with the official competition, there will be a series of benefit matches that will see some of the biggest content creators in the gaming world take on the professional tennis players to raise funds to help those affected by Covid-19.
All fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the Mutua Madrid Open’s social media, with a spectacular production that will include commentary on all the matches, analysis and highlights programmes and interviews with the winners after each match.
16 players have confirmed their participation so far: Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray, Gael Monfils, David Goffin, Fabio Fognini, Karen Khachanov, John Isner, Lucas Pouille, Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Kristina Mladenovic, Carla Suárez, Victoria Azarenka, Fiona Ferro and Eugenie Bouchard. The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.