Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori returned to action Monday while still on the road to recovery from elbow surgery, joining a group of fellow top tennis professionals in contesting the Madrid Open Virtual Pro, a video game version of the clay-court tournament.
With the pro tennis tours on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nishikori is among 16 men and 16 women who have swapped tennis rackets for PlayStation 4 controllers to play for the Madrid Open Virtual Pro titles this week.
After losing 3-0 to Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, Nishikori found success in a digitally recreated Manolo Santana Stadium, defeating American Frances Tiafoe 3-0.
It is the first time a virtual tennis tournament has been contested solely by professional tour players.
The tournament will be played from Monday to Thursday, with the top two players in each group advancing to a knockout quarterfinal draw.
The event will include a total purse of €300,000 in the two competitions, split evenly between ATP and WTA players.
The winners will be able to decide how much they donate to their fellow professional tennis players who are currently facing financial hardships with tournaments worldwide postponed or canceled.
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