MADRID: 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 13 July, 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 video game, while swapping their racquets for a game controller.
“Since we announced that the Mutua Madrid Open would not take place on the dates planned, we have been working on ideas for bringing tennis to the fans”, said Feliciano López, the tournament director. “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. We have organised a tournament for the professional players that is as true to the conventional Mutua Madrid Open as possible, without them having to leave their homes. And its goal is not just to entertain; we want to do our bit during this period, which is so difficult for everyone.”
“The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be a first-of-its-kind for the ATP Tour, providing an exciting and new way for players and fans to connect and engage with our sport”, said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman. “This is a win-win for all – the Mutua Madrid Open, the players, and the fans. We are particularly pleased that funds raised from this initiative will contribute towards supporting the wider playing group, which is critical during these challenging times.”
“The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is a unique and creative way of engaging the WTA athletes and their fans during this unprecedented time,” stated Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. “The WTA would like to thank and recognize the event for putting this initiative together. We look forward to the virtual game, which can serve as a fun source of entertainment while at the same helping to bridge a gap until live tennis returns, while also providing opportunities to help those players in need during this challenging time.”
The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will take place over four days, from 27 to 30 April, in a show of solidarity to raise money and help the tennis players most in need during this time, all those that have no income to help them through these months of inactivity, and those affected by COVID-19.
To do so, 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 an additional 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, thanks to the participation of Webedia, the leading group in digital entertainment.
“We’re delighted to be working together with the Mutua Madrid Open on an innovative and pioneering project in the world of tennis, the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro”, said Antony Dumas, CEO of Webedia. “We can take that which cannot happen on the real courts to the virtual courts. At Webedia we are working hard to translate the expertise we have in the digital world to the world of conventional sport and we are sure that the tournament will be a success.”
“We’re very happy to participate in this Mutua Madrid Open initiative with our game Tennis World Tour”, said Carlos Rosales, the general director of Nacon Gaming España. “In this period of confinement and virtuality, the world of tennis is sending out a very powerful message of strength and optimism, values that we share at Nacon. Real sport and its virtual simulation are coming together during this enforced break. Thanks to the Mutua Madrid Open for giving us the opportunity to participate in this innovative international project that will open an as-yet-unexplored road for many other tournaments.”
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 Mutua Madrid Open organisation will soon announce the list of participants, as well as other news on the competition.