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Madrid Open tennis tournament rescheduled as video game event, eyes top players

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The 2020 Madrid Open, one of more than 30 professional tournaments canceled or postponed because of the novel coronavirus, is going to be contested April 27-30 by tennis players holding controllers instead of rackets.

The clay-court tournament on Monday announced its plan to go virtual, saying it will involve “the world’s biggest tennis stars squaring off from their own homes.”

There will be 150,000 euros (about $160,000) in prize money each for the men’s and women’s events, with the winners deciding how much they want to donate to tennis players who are having a hard time financially without any tournaments to enter. An additional 50,000 euros (about $55,000) will be given to reduce the social impact of the pandemic.

The list of players who will “compete” will be released later.

The Madrid Open was supposed to be played May 1-10, but the entire European clay circuit was abandoned by the ATP and WTA. Both tours are suspended until at least July 13.

Wimbledon was canceled entirely for 2020, while the French Open has been postponed from May until September.

MORE: Most decorated U.S. female Olympian on front line of coronavirus fight

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Wimbledon canceled for first time since World War II; ATP, WTA suspended until mid-July

Wimbledon
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The Championships, the official name of the tennis Grand Slam known around the world as Wimbledon, will not be held in 2020.

“It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the All England Tennis Club announced Wednesday. “The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.”

Organizers expect Britain’s measures to combat the spread of the virus for many months. The supplies and services needed to put on the tournament would not be available at any other point in the summer, ruling out a postponement until later in the year, organizers said.

Also on Wednesday, the ATP Tour announced that the suspension of the ATP and WTA tours would continue until July 13, the day after Wimbledon was supposed to end. The tennis competition at the Olympics was scheduled to start July 24.

The French Open has been postponed until late September. The USTA said Wednesday that the U.S. Open is still expected to be held on its scheduled time frame of Aug. 24 to Sept. 13.

Wimbledon started in 1877 has been held every year except during World War I and World War II.

Roger Federer, who has been dealing with a right knee injury that would have kept him out of action for the next couple of months even if tournaments were going forward, reacted with one simple word: “Devastated.”

Federer has not yet announced his retirement despite some April Fools Day-inspired pieces around the Internet on Wednesday.

Defending women’s champion Simona Halep was quick to share her thoughts as well: “(W)e are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back!”

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French Open changes dates due to coronavirus

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The French Open tennis Grand Slam has been postponed from a May 24 start to Sept. 20-Oct. 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roland Garros will now start one week after the end of the U.S. Open, traditionally the season’s last Slam.

“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned,” according to a tournament press release.

Previously, the ATP and WTA Tours called off all tournaments into late April, including the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, considered the sport’s fifth-biggest annual tournament after the four majors.

The next scheduled Grand Slam is Wimbledon from June 29-July 12.

The French Open was scheduled to be the final tournament in the Olympic qualifying window. ATP and WTA rankings after the event were to determine the Olympic singles fields.

The new French Open dates coincide with the Laver Cup, a men’s team event that drew Roger FedererRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among its first three editions. This year’s Laver Cup is scheduled for Boston from Sept. 25-27.

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