MADRID, Spain - With the start of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro just around the corner, the organizers continue to unveil the names of new participants: on Sunday, David Ferrer, Belinda Bencic, Frances Tiafoe and Sorana Cirstea joined the list of players confirmed to take part in the competition.
The news means the four of them will square off virtually against the best players in the world from their homes from 27 to 30 April. The players will swap their rackets for a PlayStation 4 to clash in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour videogame (Nacon Gaming).
Belinda Bencic, number eight in the ranking and winner of four WTA titles, will be trying her best to make things difficult for her usual opponents on tour, although this time she will not be leaving the comfort of her own living room.
"I'm really looking forward to compete and play in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro later this month", said Bencic. "No matter if it’s on the court or virtual in this case, I love everything that has to do with tennis and competing so this is an exciting opportunity to try something new."
David Ferrer, who last year retired from professional tennis at the Mutua Madrid Open, left a stunning career in his wake; he reached number three in the world, won 27 ATP titles and hung up his racket with 734 victories under his belt. From next Monday, the Alicante native will have the chance to experience something new when he takes to the virtual court to play his opener in the competition.
“I can’t wait to take part in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro”, said Ferrer. “I used to be a gamer, so I hope I haven’t forgotten. I’m practising so that I’m ready!”
Frances Tiafoe and Sorana Cirstea will also be part of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. The US player, world number 81, and the Romanian, number 75 in the WTA Rankings, were quick to accept the challenge of trying to conquer the new innovative tournament, and keen to lend their time to contribute to the competition’s main cause.
"I'm very happy to take up the competition again at the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro", said Cirstea. "It's an exciting concept and a world premiere in digital tennis. I know the competition will be fierce because we will all want to show the best of our 'skills'. Very cool combo to mix tennis digital and especially charity during these hard times. Will be loads of fun. Watch me play! Congrats Mutua Madrid Open!"
“I'm most definitely looking forward to participating in the innovative Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament", admitted Tiafoe. "I think fans around the world will enjoy watching us play from home while they are in their homes. I know that all of the players are appreciative of the tournament organizers and sponsors for providing us with this opportunity.”
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. 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 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.
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.
24 players have confirmed their participation so far: Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils, David Goffin, Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwartzman, Karen Khachanov, John Isner, Lucas Pouille, David Ferrer, Frances Tiafoe, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Kristina Mladenovic, Carla Suárez, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Fiona Ferro, Eugenie Bouchard and Sorana Cirstea. The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.