Championship Thursday of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro was eventful, to say the least. Pre-tournament favorite Andy Murray fulfilled his destiny thanks to a selfless act from his semifinal opponent Diego Schwartzman, while Kiki Bertens virtually defended her real life 2019 title with a convincing victory over France’s Fiona Ferro.
WTA Semifinal 1: Fiona Ferro d. Sorana Cirstea, 6-3
In the first semifinal, a laser-focused Ferro handled an ill-timed technical interruption like a champion in her 6-3 victory over Cirstea. Unable to speak to each other due to connectivity issues, the first match of the day was a silent one.
“Sorana is really aggressive, quite like in reality,” Ferro said after her victory. “There were quite a few connection problems in the end but it was really fun to play with Sorana.”
Goffin came up clutch, saving match point with an ace in his surprising upset over the Greek. Goffin's character owns tremendous speed, and might be the most underrated player in the game. Tsitsipas was unable to fire his trademark winners past the Belgian's lightning-quick avatar.
WTA Semifinal 2: Kiki Bertens d. Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5
Something magical happens when Bertens steps on the clay of Caja Magica. Bertens made the final in Madrid in 2018, won the title in 2019, and extended her unbeaten streak against the surprisingly talented Wozniacki.
ATP Semifinal 2: Andy Murray d. Diego Schwartzman, walkover
It's a miracle that Murray didn't shatter his controller, as he fought harder with connectivity issues than the speedy Schwartzman. They were forced to restart twice, while a double-bounce glitch stole point after point from the Scot.
“I'm not allowed to let the ball bounce but you can have it bounce like four times?" Murray said. “You don’t have good internet in Argentina or what?”
The two agreed to play a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of the match, which Schwartzman won 10-6, but then immediately withdrew himself from contention.
"We need to talk with the organization to fix this," Schwartzman said.
"You deserve to be in the final. We need to split the prize money we share to the foundations. And then you play the final. I think it's going to be better for TV for everyone. If you are in Europe, the transmission is better."
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. pic.twitter.com/0dMdqaQ7gt— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) April 30, 2020
WTA Championship: Bertens d. Ferro, 6-2
Bertens could not miss in the final, striking 21 winners to just one unforced error while serving 94% of first serves in play. She could hardly contain her smile in her post match interview.
"I'm feeling great, of course, it's my first virtual tournament victory," Bertens said. "Once I got the playstation I started practicing, because if I do something I want to do it right."
"I hope everyone had fun watching, I think it was unbelievable that so many players competed. We can't play real tennis, but I hope our fans enjoyed the last few days."
ATP Championship: Murray d. Goffin, 7-6 (5)
Schwartzman's decision to withdraw proved to be the right one. The technology finally cooperated, allowing Murray and Goffin to play flawless tennis to close out the tournament. The match, which lasted over half an hour, regularly featured 20-shot rallies. Down 5-4 in the tiebreak, Murray painted a forehand on the line, followed by an ace, then a running forehand winner to clinch the match.
"It was a great final, Andy was playing so good," Goffin said. “I haven’t played video games for a long time, I made the final so I’m happy with my tournament.”
Murray was quick to praise his opponent. “I think he’s a little bit better than me at the game. He knows how to use the drop shot and inside out forehand. My serve was probably the biggest difference.”
Murray's countless hours of experience served him well in the end. “The heart rate gets up there a little bit, especially at the end."
Going to get ‘virtually’ legless celebrating my win online @mutuamadridopen Hope anyone who watched got some sort of enjoyment out of it in these tough times. 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. #tennis #castore #nhs #stayhome
Bertens and Murray each won 150,000 euros, which they will donate to a charity of their choice. Murray later shared on Instagram, "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."