Rafael Nadal is taking his tennis game online…
The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star has been added to the official draw for the Madrid Open Virtual Pro.
Even though the action will be played in a video game format, there’s still an exciting round-robin blockbuster.
Nadal, a five-time Madrid Open champion is joined by another former World No. 1, Andy Murray, in Group 1. They’ll square off in the virtual version of the tournament, with Gael Monfils— who’s an avid gamer — and Denis Shapovalov also in the same group.
Nadal joked in a recent Instagram live with Murray that “they don’t want me to do well in Madrid this year” and that he only recently played the game for the first time. When Murray said he selected Nadal as his character to compete on clay against Roger Federer, the Spaniard asked if he “hit against [Roger’s] backhand all the time” for the match.
“After a set, you were unbelievably tired,” Murray said, laughing. “The energy bar on the side of the screen was almost empty. I’ve never seen you get tired after one set!”
Group 2 is led by close friends Dominic Thiem, a Madrid finalist in 2017 and 2018, and Diego Schwartzman. John Isnerand David Ferrerwill add their own spice to this intriguing group.
Stefanos Tsitsipasreached last year’s Madrid final on the court, and he’ll look to go one step further virtually. The Greek leads Group 3, battling for a spot in the quarterfinals with Fabio Fognini, Frances Tiafoeand Kei Nishikori.
Group 4 includes 2018 Madrid champion Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille. They’ll all be bidding to progress in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the video game Tennis World Tour (Nacon Gaming), and hoping to win the spoils with their PS4controllers.
Lars Graff, the ATPVice President, Officiating, conducted the draw from his home.
This tournament will be played from 27-30 April, with the round-robin qualifying groups taking place on 27 and 28 April. The top two players in each group will advance to a knockout quarterfinal draw.
“We’ve had a great response from all the players. From the first moment when the initiative was conceived, they were prepared to help. It’s the first virtual tournament. It’ll be a fantastic tournament, the bar is high, the players are ready and it’s certainly going to be spectacular,” said Feliciano López, the tournament director of the Mutua Madrid Open.
This pioneering charity initiative will donate a total of €50,000 to the Madrid Food Bank to help reduce the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the tournament will include a total purse of €300,000 in the two competitions (€150,000 ATP and €150,000 WTA), from which the winners will be able to decide how much they donate to their peers on Tour who are currently suffering economically.
“There are some really high-quality matches, as we normally see during the real tournament”, stated Gerard Tsobanian, CEO and president of the Mutua Madrid Open. “There is a very competitive group in the men’s draw… I can’t wait to see who is going to progress from Group 1 and I’m looking forward to the tournament starting on Monday.”
Group 1: Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Denis Shapovalov, Andy Murray
Group 2: Dominic Thiem,Diego Schwartzman, John Isner, David Ferrer
Group 3: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Fabio Fognini,Kei Nishikori,Frances Tiafoe
Group 4: Alexander Zverev,David Goffin,Karen Khachanov,Lucas Pouille