Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dona Vekic, Denis Shapovalov and Caroline Wozniacki are the final four participants in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, the innovative tournament in which the best tennis players in the world will square off from their homes from 27 to 30 April in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour videogame (Nacon Gaming).
The final four confirmed players join 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 to complete the entry list for the tournament, whose draw will take place on Friday 23 at 16:00, Spanish time.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a finalist in the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open (lost in the final to Novak Djokovic), currently occupies the number six spot in the ATP Rankings. The Greek player, who was this year crowned champion in Marseille, has become one of the biggest stars on the men’s tour at just 21 years of age. At the end of last season, Tsitsipas won the Nitto ATP Finals in London’s O2 to claim the biggest title of his career.
“Happy to prove my parents wrong back in the day when they used to tell me playing video games would bring me nowhere in my life”, said Tsitsipas. “It’s great being part of the first virtual online tennis tournament with actual professional tennis players”.
Dona Vekic, the world number 24 and winner of two titles, has also added her name to the innovative tournament, accepting the challenge of competing virtually against some of his habitual opponents.
“It’s such a great idea and I’m really happy to be a part of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro”, said Vekic. “Uniting the tennis world through the only possible platform in these rough times is an amazing initiative, especially taking into consideration the charitable aspect of the tournament. I’m far from being a pro in the gaming world, but I will do my best and am really looking forward to test my skills against the WTA Tour’s finest”.
Denis Shapovalov and Caroline Wozniacki will also be in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. The Canadian world number 16 and the Dane, who retired from professional tennis in the last Australian Open after a dazzling career (ex-world number one and winner of 30 titles including a Grand Slam), have also joined the list of participants.
“I like this original idea very much and I am excited to be part of it”, stated Shapovalov. “I will start practicing and get back into competition mode to be performing well. Watch me perform!”.
“I’m very excited about playing in the Mutua Madrid Open”, said Wozniacki. “I’m looking forward to showing off my skills with a PS4 controller and I can’t wait for my first match!”.
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.
In addition, the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be sponsored by Orange. For the last two years, thanks to Orange, the tournament has run the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual, with six qualifying heats (where Tennis World Tour was played in various Orange stores around Spain) and a final stage in the Caja Mágica, during the week of the Mutua Madrid Open. Now, for the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, Orange was quick to join the initiative and lend its support to the first virtual tennis event to be played by professional tennis players. Once again, with the sponsorship of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, Orange has demonstrated its commitment to e-sports and also its interest in tennis, which it shares with the Orange Group (a regular supplier at the French Open). Its commitment to the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will bolster the growth of electronic sports in Spain, where they are currently booming.
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 groups will decide which players qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament, which takes place over four days of competition. 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.
Fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the Mutua Madrid Open’s social media with spectacular production that will include commentary on all matches, as well as analysis and highlights programmes and interviews with the winners after each match.