With three days to go until the draw for the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, the organisers have confirmed the presence of another four players: Dominic Thiem, Karolina Pliskova, Kei Nishikori and Bianca Andreescu will all take part in the innovative tournament, in which the best tennis players in the world will face off from their homes from 27 to 30 April. The biggest ATP and WTA 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).
Dominic Thiem, a two-time Mutua Madrid Open finalist (2017 and 2018), currently occupies the world number 3 spot, the highest position of his career. The Austrian, who started 2020 by reaching the final of the Australian Open, he will be clashing with some of his biggest rivals in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, such as Rafa Nadal and Alexander Zverev.
“I’m looking very much forward to the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament”, said Thiem. “Of course this won’t be the same to play virtual compared to the real one, but it’s a great initiative and I’m very excited about still. It’s my first time ever to play an event like this. Again I’m really looking forward to my first match! It’s going to be great”.
Karolina Pliskova, the world number three, has won 16 WTA trophies in her career, making her one of the best players on the planet. In a few days, the Czech will be trying her luck with a PlayStation 4 controller on Tennis World Tour.
“I’m very excited to participate in my first virtual tennis tournament”, said Pliskova. “It think it will be lots of fun not only for the fans to see us to competing on a different platform showing completely different skills from our homes but I think it will also be lots of fun for us – the players. I love the charity component of the event and will do my best to stay in the game of Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro as long as possible. If any of my fans are pros in PS4 tennis videos games, I welcome your coaching tips before the show starts”.
Kei Nishikori and Bianca Andreescu will also take part in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. The Japanese player, world number 31 and winner of 12 titles, and the Canadian, number six in the WTA Rankings and last year’s US Open champion, have accepted the challenge of the new tournament, thus contributing to the competition’s main cause.
“Excited to help the Madrid tournament with this unique experience”, said Nishikori. “We are all hoping to be back on court soon but as we are all staying safe inside for now… This will hopefully provide fans with some much needed positive entertainment”.
“I’m so looking forward to competing virtually on the Center Court of the Mutua Madrid Open at the end of the month”, recognised Andreescu. “With the ATP and WTA season on hold, this is such an awesome way to bring the tennis community of players and fans together while also contributing to a good cause. Make sure to tune in!”.
Like the other players in this pioneering online charity competition, 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. 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.
28 players have confirmed their participation so far: Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils, David Goffin, Kei Nishikori, Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwartzman, Karen Khachanov, John Isner, Lucas Pouille, David Ferrer, Frances Tiafoe, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Kristina Mladenovic, Carla Suárez, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Fiona Ferro, Eugenie Bouchard and Sorana Cirstea. The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.