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Faux damage, glitches: Madrid Open tennis tries COVID gaming

A screen grab taken on Monday April 27, 2020 showing
Picture Supply : AP

A display screen seize taken on Monday April 27, 2020 displaying Spain’s Rafael Nadal, backside left, enjoying towards Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, backside proper, in a “digital” tennis match at a event hosted by the Madrid Open. Tennis has joined the online game craze taking on the sports activities world in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, with Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and 30 different professionals buying and selling of their rackets for controllers this week to take part in a “digital” event hosted by the Madrid Open.

So right here’s a dose of realism — or surrealism — for the primary online game event of the coronavirus pandemic involving skilled tennis gamers: A match supposedly was postponed Monday due to Rafael Nadal’s balky again, besides the event director later admitted he was simply kidding.

That little bit of silliness from Day 1 on the controller-instead-of-racket Madrid Open got here 24 hours after one other professional, Gael Monfils, actually did withdraw due to ties to a streaming service not concerned on this digital enterprise.

Add these weird developments to technical glitches, some odd asserting and loads of enthusiasm from the individuals — together with a very artistic Belinda Bencic, the 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist who posted a video of herself getting into a lounge to the strains of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” — as tennis joined the transfer to gaming for a sports activities world largely on maintain in the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I don’t know when it’s going to be over, this nightmare, as a result of it’s been actually lengthy already, and it feels prefer it’s by no means going to be over,” mentioned Feliciano Lopez, a professional who’s been ranked within the high 20 in singles and doubles and now oversees the Madrid Open.

The true clay-court tuneup for the French Open was alleged to be performed Might 1-10. However it’s amongst greater than 30 tournaments canceled or postponed as a result of tennis excursions are suspended till no less than mid-July. Wimbledon was referred to as off for the primary time in 75 years.

“The very first thing once we began engaged on this venture was to present the followers one thing that they don’t have proper now,” Lopez mentioned.

It was Lopez who earnestly (nicely, seemingly earnestly) mentioned Monday he acquired a textual content from Nadal explaining “he was actually nervous in regards to the damage” to his again and needed to place off a match. There was zero indication on the time that this was an try at humor.

However later, Lopez wrote on Twitter: “Guys, I used to be joking of, course.”

There are 16 ladies and 16 males within the four-day fake Madrid occasion, together with 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, three-time main winner Andy Murray and former No. 1 ladies Caroline Wozniacki — who retired from the tour in January — Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova. A mixed 300,000 euros (about $325,000) in prize cash is accessible, with the champs deciding how a lot to donate to tennis gamers having a tough time financially now. An extra 50,000 euros (about $55,000) goes to virus-related charity.

There’s a round-robin format, with one-set matches as much as simply Three video games, and tiebreakers at 3-all. Every match lasts about 10 minutes.

Viewers can watch streams out there with English and Spanish commentary, which typically drowns out the gamers, who will be seen and heard through picture-in-picture bins.

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