The 32 players that make up the cast in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro now know the route they will have to follow to be crowned champions of this new online tournament, which will take place from Monday 27 April to Thursday 30 April. The draw was made by Giulia Orlandi, WTA supervisor, and Lars Graff, ATP supervisor, to produce a qualifying stage with four groups of four players, which will take place on Monday and Tuesday. The first two in each group will progress to the quarter-finals, scheduled for Wednesday, while the Thursday will provide the stage for the semi-finals and final.
The men’s draw threw up a complicated situation for the members of Group 1. Five-time champion Rafael Nadal will square off in the virtual version of the tournament with Gael Monfils, Denis Shapovalov and Andy Murray, who has also managed to lift the title on two occasions (2008 and 2015).
Group 2 is headed by two close friends from the ATP Tour Dominic Thiem, finalist in 2017 and 2018, and Diego Schwartzman. John Isner and David Ferrer will and their own spice to this intriguing group. For his part, in Group 3, Stefanos Tsitsipas, a finalist last year in the Caja Mágica, will be battling for a place in the quarters against Fabio Fognini, Frances Tiafoe and Kei Nishikori, who also played in the decider in 2014.
Finally, Group 4 will include 2018 champion Alexander Zverev alongside David Goffin, Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille. They will all be bidding to progress in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the videogame Tennis World Tour (Nacon Gaming), and hoping to win the spoils with their PS4 controllers.
The women’s draw was no less intriguing. In Group 1, the only Spaniard in action Carla Suárez will have to take on Karolina Pliskova, Belinda Bencic and Fiona Ferro. Elsewhere, Group 2 has an even more complicated route to the title for Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian will have to take on Johanna Konta, Sorana Cirstea and Victoria Azarenka, a finalist in 2011 and 2012.
Bianca Andreescu is the big name in Grupo 3, where she will be joined by Madison Keys and two other players who have played for the trophy in Madrid; Caroline Wozniacki (2009) and Kristina Mladenovic (2017). Finally, defending champion Kiki Bertens will be defending her title in Grupo 4, which also includes Angelique Kerber, Donna Vekic and Eugenie Bouchard.
“We’ve had a great response from all the players. From the first moment when the initiative was conceived, they were prepared to help. It’s the first virtual tournament. It’ll be a fantastic tournament, the bar is high, the players are ready and it’s certainly going to be spectacular”, guaranteed Feliciano López, the director of the Mutua Madrid Open.
This pioneering charity initiative will donate a total of 50,000 euros to the Madrid Food Bank to help reduce the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the tournament will include a total purse of 300,000 euros in the two competitions (150,000 ATP and 150,000 WTA), from which the winners will be able to decide how much they donate to their peers on tour who are currently suffering economically.
“There are some really high-quality matches, as we normally see during the real tournament”, stated Gerard Tsobanian, CEO and president of the Mutua Madrid Open. “There is a very competitive group in the men’s draw. I know, because of what the players have been saying on social media, that they will be fighting to the death. I can’t wait to see who is going to progress from Group 1 and I’m looking forward to the tournament starting on Monday”.