As Europe, and much of the rest of the world, finds itself in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, sporting events have been postponed for the foreseeable future. This hasn’t just left fans at a loose-end, but many sportsmen and sportswomen find themselves unable to earn an income.
The prevalence and accessibility of online gaming has led to the formation of a virtual tennis competition. Although there will be no real-life tournament this summer, the Spanish Open will take on a new form. A virtual tournament will be played via PlayStation and is backed by some of the biggest names in the business. You’ll have the privilege of watching Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Caroline Wozniacki, and many more as they trade in their racquets to compete against one another on the Tennis World Tour video game. The title up for grabs this week is the Madrid Open Virtual Pro.
The event will consist of two tournaments of 16 players each. Men and women, playing in a knock-out competition to determine who’s the best of the virtual world. There’s some big prize money up for grabs – £131, 200 each. The winner of both the men’s and women’s tournament will be able to choose how they wish to distribute their winnings.
The prize money is aimed at relief funds. These funds have been set up in an effort to ease the financial strain that many of the lower-ranked tennis players are under at the moment. Due to the fact that the ATP and WTA have been put on hold, tennis players have essentially found themselves out of work. The top players are able to draw from endorsement deals and continued income streams. But, the reality for most players who make up the tour, is that they are suffering economically. Thus, this initiative is a great way of supporting each other, while giving fans something to cheer about at home.
If you’re an avid tennis follower, you might have an idea of who spends most of their off days in their hotel room, playing PlayStation. Nick Kyrgios is one name that comes to mind. However, he won’t be competing as he believes an alternative game would have been a better idea. One that would rake in more online viewership.
No need to despair. Nadal and Murray will be out in full force, figuratively anyway. Joining them in this year’s competition will be the likes of Monfils, Wozniacki, Konta, Thiem, and Tsitsipas. Those are some big names in the tennis world.
What might be most interesting is finding out how the power dynamics shift onto the e-court arena. Can the best transfer their on-court form into something a little less tangible? We’re just not sure who to back and it will be exciting to see which player can hold their nerve to win it all.
Catch the action on the new gaming app or on the Facebook page of the Madrid Open. Qualifying rounds take place from the 27th-28th of April while the knockout rounds will take place from the 29th -30th of April.