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Tennis players to swap rackets for game controllers as Madrid Open goes online

Phil Egan
Phil Egan

12:12 7 Apr 2020

Organisers of the Madrid Open said they will stage a virtual competition to raise funds for struggling professionals amid the coronavirus shutdown.

It means the world's top players will try their hand at gaming following the decision to suspend the season in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's Wimbledon Championships have been cancelled while the ATP and WTA tours won't resume until mid-July at the earliest, leaving players in the lower tiers without any chance to earn a living.

The Madrid Open, featuring total prize money of €7.6 million was scheduled for early May but the tournament will now take place on the Tennis World Tour videogame from April 27-30.

The ATP Tour said it will feature "the world's biggest tennis stars squaring off from their own homes."

In a statement, Madrid Open director Feliciano Lopez said: "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."

With no live sport at present, we've seen plenty of sports go down the virtual route. The Aintree Grand National was a virtual race last weekend while Formula One has also held virtual races.
World Boxing Super Series has been staging tournaments online and La Liga organised an online event recently.

The online tennis tournament will have 16 men’s and women’s singles players in each draw and offer a purse of €150,000 for both.

The winners will decide how much they want to donate to their fellow professionals while an additional €50,000 will go towards reducing the social impact of the global pandemic.

On top of the official competition, more funds will be raised from charity matches that will see some big names from the gaming world face professional tennis players.

Organisers will announce the list of participants soon and all fans will be able to follow the tournament online and on television.

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