With professional tennis on hiatus until mid-July, the Mutua Madrid Open won't be played on site at the Caja Magica, but instead will take place completely virtually with the goal of not only entertaining tennis fans, but also raising funds for impacted players.
The event has announced the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, which will see 16 ATP and WTA players take part in a virtual Madrid tournament from their own homes later this month, via the video game Tennis World Tour.
“The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is a unique and creative way of engaging the WTA athletes and their fans during this unprecedented time,” said 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 April 27-30, with the 16 ATP and WTA players first divided into two draws in four groups. The champion and runner-up for each group will advance to the knockout stage, beginning in the quarterfinals.
The participants in both draws will play for a purse of €150,000 Euros, with the winners being able to donate a portion of their winnings to their peers affected economically by the tour's hiatus. In addition, an additional €50,000 Euros will go towards reducing the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In conjunction with the official competition, there will be a series of charity matches that will see some of the biggest content creators in the gaming world face professional tennis players in the game to raise further proceeds to help those affected by COVID-19 in partnership with Webedia, a global media and technology company.
“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," added tournament director Feliciano López.
“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 organized 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."
Fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the tournament's official social media channels, with participating players soon to be announced.