Tennis stars got together this week through their Playstation 4’s to compete in a virtual version of the Madrid Open which should have been underway this month.
With postponements of numerous sporting events due to the current pandemic, organisers are turning to the virtual world to keep sports alive during lockdown.
16 of the top ATP players took part in the tournament which was played on the official Tennis World Tour Playstation Game.
Last Thursday, Andy Murray won a ticket to the final when his opposition Diego Schwartzman had technical difficulties resulting in Schwartzman handing the win over.
In a tournament statement it was announced that “Due to technical problems with @dieschwartzman’s connection that prevented him from competing normally in his semi-final match, the players have agreed that @andy_murray should progress to the #MMOPEN Virtual Pro final.”
After defeating legend Rafael Nadal in the group stage amongst other tennis pros Murray made his way to the final where he beat Belgium’s David Goffin on a tiebreak 7-6 (5).
Murray celebrated his win with a bottle of moet, toasting to his social media followers. “Going to get ‘virtually’ legless celebrating my win online. Hope anyone who watched got some sort of enjoyment out of it in these tough times”
Andy Murray has also stated on his social media pages that he will be donating his winnings. “I’ll be donating half of the 45 thousand dollars prize money to the NHS and the other half to the tennis player relief fund.”
When will Tennis return?
Professional tennis is already making a comeback in Germany. Today will be the first in a series of planned exhibition events but there will be no spectators, line judges, ball kids or handshakes.
The events will be hosted at the Base Tennis Academy near Koblenz. “We have been pretty much redesigning the set-up of the tennis club,” says Director of the venue Ruben Herrera.
“But once the players are on the court, it’s really pretty safe.”
The venue insists all benches and the umpire’s chair will be disinfected at the end of every single match. Gloves and masks will also be provided to every attendee however these won’t be worn by the players during the games.
The Base Tennis Academy is also planning to hold further exhibition events over the two weekends to follow and Rafael Nadal has announced his hopes to host exhibition matches at his academy in Mallorca.
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is also due to begin in May at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice.
However Andy Murray feels tennis shouldn’t return until the pandemic is under control and it is safe to have contact again. “I’m sure all tennis players want to get back to competing and playing as soon as possible, but right now that is not the most important thing.
“First of all, we want to get our normal lives back, just being able to go out, see friends, go to restaurants and have your normal freedoms.
“And then hopefully over time, things will start to allow for travelling and sport will be able to go back to normal as well. But I don’t see that happening very soon.”