Three days after officially announcing the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, the tournament’s organisers have confirmed the participation of the first four tennis players, two in the ATP draw and two in the WTA: the competition will include Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber, Lucas Pouille and Carla Suárez.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has prevented the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open from taking place from 1 to 10 May and forced the ATP and WTA to postpone all activity on their tours until July 13, the organisers of the only ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event in Europe have announced the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, an innovative tournament that will be a virtual replica of the tennis competition, with the world’s biggest tennis stars squaring off from their own homes. The news means that the biggest ATP and WTA stars will clash in the Manolo Santana Stadium, recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour (Nacon Gaming) videogame, while swapping their racquets for a game controller.
Ex-world number one and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has won a total of 46 ATP Tour titles in his career, including two trophies from the Mutua Madrid Open (2008 and 2015). The Briton, who forms part of the men’s circuit’s Big 4 alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, now has a big challenge ahead of him when he takes to the Manolo Santana Stadium, virtually of course, to face the opponents standing between him and another victory.
Another ex-world number one, Angelique Kerber, will also play in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. The German, who has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, has claimed 12 WTA titles during her brilliant career. At the end of April, Kerber will be looking for triumph in the Caja Mágica, but without leaving the comfort of her home.
“The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is a new challenge for us the players, and something that I have never been done before”, explained Kerber. “It’s exciting and a good opportunity to compete from home in a new format. I’m looking forward to participate!”.
Lucas Pouille and Carla Suárez complete the first group of participants in the tournament. While the Frenchman, a 5-time ATP Tour winner, returned to competition in an ATP Challenger Tour event in Indian Wells after picking up an injury to his right elbow, the Spaniard was planning on making 2020 her last year on the professional tour after a lifetime dedicated to professionalism. They will both now enjoy the chance to play in a pioneering online competition conceived as a charity event 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.
“This is going to be a very exciting and challenging”, admitted Lucas Pouille. “I started practicing already because I want to win this event against my fellow players who, I know, some of them play a lot. Thank you to the Mutua Madrid Open for this great initiative”.
“Forming part of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is an honour”, said Carla Suárez. “The tournament has always been innovative and this is another example of that. We’re going through some exceptional circumstances and any way of collaborating will always be welcome. This is a difficult time for everyone, so we should be united as far as we can”, added the Spanish player. “We all really miss tennis and the adrenaline of competition and it will be interesting to see us play in a different format. I’m sure we will all have a good time, we’ll have fun with the fans and, above all, we’ll be contributing to a good cause”.
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.
The format for the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro 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.
The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.