Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov are the final two 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 video game (Nacon Gaming).
Tsitsipas and Shapovalov join Rafael 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 and Frances Tiafoe to complete the entry list for the tournament. The event will be streamed on Facebook Gaming.
Tsitsipas, a finalist at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Djokovic), currently occupies the No. 6 spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Greek player, who captured his second straight Open 13 Provence title in Marseille this year, has become one of the biggest stars on the ATP Tour at just 21 years of age. At the end of last season, Tsitsipas won the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London 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.”
Shapovalov is also looking forward to testing his skills at the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. The Canadian, ranked No. 16 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, reached the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals on his tournament debut in 2018.
“I like this original idea very much and I am excited to be part of it”, said Shapovalov. “I will start practising and get back into competition mode to be performing well. Watch me perform.”
Streaming will start on Friday at 4pm CEST with the draws for the competition. The ATP and WTA draws will be followed by the charity tournament draw, which will see content creators come together with tennis stars.
Eight content creators will participate, in parallel with the official competition, in a charity tournament that will see clashes between the biggest-name professional gamers in the industry; DjMaRiiO, Cristinini, Alexby, Seb Delanney, Gravesen, Borja Iglesias, Ibai Llanos and Grefg.
In addition, the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be sponsored by Orange. For the past 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 Magica, during the week of the Mutua Madrid Open.
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 Roland Garros). Its commitment to the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will bolster the growth of electronic sports in Spain, where they are currently booming.
Like the other players in this pioneering online charity competition, Tsitsipas and Shapovalov 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 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 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 the two draws (ATP and WTA) initially divided into four groups. The groups will decide which players qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament. 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.
In the WTA draw, Donna Vekic and Caroline Wozniacki will feature alongside Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu, Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Kristina Mladenovic, Carla Suarez Navarro, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Fiona Ferro, Eugenie Bouchard and Sorana Cirstea.
The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will officially kick off on Monday 27 April with broadcasts beginning at 3pm CEST each day. The broadcast, which will be similar to the television production for the conventional Mutua Madrid Open, will include a presentation for each match, with commentary, interviews with the players after each match and the presence of special guests, such as ex-tennis players and well-known journalists. A summary programme with the highlights of the day will round off each day of competition.
An added bonus for spectators will be the option of watching the tennis stars play from their home thanks to two windows on the screen. This means that everything that happens in the Tennis World Tour video game will be enhanced by the reactions of the biggest ATP and WTA stars.