The organizing committee of the Madrid Open, one of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour Masters 1000, has made an unusual decision. With all other professional tennis tournaments, including Wimbledon, canceled until July 13 due to the spread of the coronavirus, the committee has decided to go ahead with the Madrid Open. The opening date, which was originally slated for May 1, has been moved up to April 27, instead of cancelling the tournament. The decision, however, does respect social distancing rules since the tournament will be played online from home.
The world’s biggest tennis stars will swap rackets for game controllers for online tournament, the organizing committee wrote on its official homepage and social network on Tuesday. The Madrid Open is the fourth tournament of the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000. The 2020 Mutua Madrid Open, which was scheduled to be held from May 1 to 10, has been canceled but a virtual replica of the tournament will be held from April 27 to 30.
Sixteen ATP and WTA singles players will be divided into four groups, and the group winners will be advanced to the knockout stage, beginning in the quarterfinals. All matches will be aired online on the tournament’s official social media. There will also be game analysis, highlights, and interviews with winners after each match, while the list of participants will be announced later.
There will be a purse of 150,000 euros for each male and female winner. The organizing committee will let winners decide how much of a 150,000-euro purse they will donate to tennis players suffering economically. The committee also set aside 50,000 euros to help reduce the social impact of the coronavirus. “The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be a first-of-its-kind for the ATP Tour, providing an exciting and new way for players and fans to connect and engage with our sport,” said ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
These online tournaments are already taking place in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Sixteen NBA players, including Kevin Durant, are participating in the video game event called “NBA 2K20” from Saturday. Kevin Durant, who received the top seed thanks to his high game rating, lost to No. 16 seed, Derrick Jones Jr., 62-78 in the first round.
MLB statistics website Baseball-Reference is running a virtual league using the “Out of the Park Baseball 21 (OOTP21)” to simulate the 2020 season. Toronto Blue Jay’s Ryu Hyun-jin marked 1-1 with a 6.74 ERA in three outings. St. Louis Cardinals’ Kim Kwang-hyun, however, got off to a good start, recording 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two outings.