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Madrid Open announce virtual tournament


With both tours suspended until at least mid-July, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have come up with a unique solution. From the 27th-30th April they will be hosting an online tournament in which professionals from both the ATP and WTA circuits will compete from their own homes.

Feliciano Lopez, the tournament director, said, “We have been working on ideas for bringing tennis to the fans. 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[…] its goal is not just to entertain; we want to do our bit during this period, which is so difficult for everyone”.

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A list of participants has not yet been announced but the organisers have revealed that there will be two draws of 16 (one ATP and one WTA) and each will be split into four round-robin groups. The top two from each group will then progress through to the knockout stages. Matches will be played in a virtual recreation of the Caja Magica on the Tennis World Tour videogame, first released in 2018.

Tennis World Tour received some criticism upon its release and holds a Metacritic rating of 45%. In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, the founder of the game’s publisher, Alain Falc, confessed that the game was, “only 20% completed a few weeks before it’s release.” This meant it was shipped without one of its key selling points – an online multiplayer mode. This was remedied later down the line (with an expansion pack that included Madrid as a playable venue) but the game still only features six WTA players, compared to 32 of their ATP counterparts, leading one Twitter user to reflect that, “a 16 player women’s draw will be interesting.”

In a press statement, the organisers also announced that there will be, “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 an additional 50,000 euros that will all go towards reducing the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Furthermore, there are set to be a number of other fundraising matches in which pro tennis players will test their skills against popular online content creators.

All of the action from the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is to be streamed online and will be accompanied by commentary, post-game analysis, and interviews with the players. More news, including the names of those taking part, will be revealed in due course.

 

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