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Andy Murray Clay

Virtual Madrid Open kicks off Monday, Murray and Nadal in action


It has been seven weeks since a ball was last hit on either the ATP or the WTA tours, but fans can rejoice as the Madrid Open gets under way on Monday. Sort of. As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to necessitate social distancing, the organisers of the Madrid Open have this year set up an online tournament, pitting some of the world’s top players against each other in a virtual arena to help raise funds for players further down the rankings requiring financial assistance at this difficult time.

There tournament consists of two draws, one for the ATP and one for the WTA, each consisting of 16 players that have been split into four groups for round-robin action.

For the ATP, those groups are as follows: Group 1 – Nadal, Monfils, Shapovalov, Murray / Group 2 – Thiem, Schwartzman, Isner, Ferrer / Group 3 – Tsitsipas, Fognini, Nishikori, Tiafoe / Group 4 – Zverev, Goffin, Khachanov, Pouille

And for the WTA: Group 1 – Pliskova, Bencic, Ferro, Suarez / Group 2 – Svitolina, Konta, Azarenka, Cirstea / Group 3 – Andreescu, Keys, Mladenovic, Wozniacki / Group 4 – Bertens, Kerber, Vekic, Bouchard

The groups appear to have been split based on the players’ current world rankings, but whether their on-court form translates to in-game prowess remains to be seen.

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The tournament will take place over four days, with the group stages being played out over Monday and Tuesday, the quarter-finals on Wednesday, and then the semi-finals and finals on Thursday. The first day’s order of play has been announced and it features 26 matches, which covers half of all the round-robin ties plus two extra matches in which a pro player takes on a pro gamer. Rafael Nadal will play against DjMaRiiO, who has over 6 million subscribers on YouTube for his FIFA content, and Frances Tiafoe will compete against Borja Iglesias, a striker for Real Betis and also a keen FIFA player.

Each day’s action commences at 3pm local time with a tight schedule that packs in two matches per half hour time slot. There will be commentary for each match and cameras in the players’ homes to catch their reactions as they compete. In amongst all of the play, the are set to be post-match interviews and analysis from “ex-tennis players and well-known journalists” on what looks to be a jam-packed day of seven hours non-stop action. For those who cannot commit to watching the full line-up there will be a highlights package uploaded each evening.

There is a prize pool of 300,000 euros to be split equally between the two winners, from which the players, as per the official website, “will be able to decide how much they donate to the tennis players currently suffering economically”. A further 50,000 euros will be donated to the Madrid Food Bank.

The tournament begins on Monday 27th April at 3pm (CET) with Schwartzman v Ferrer. All of the action can be followed live on the Madrid Open’s Facebook page, which can be accessed here.

 

 


Andy Murray Clay
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