Sport

Top tennis stars to serve and volley it out online in virtual Madrid Open

Top tennis stars to serve and volley it out online in virtual Madrid Open

The world's top tennis players will swap racquets for game controllers this month after organisers of the cancelled Madrid Open said they will stage a virtual competition to raise funds for struggling professionals amid the coronavirus shutdown.

The tennis season was halted in early March due to the pandemic, leaving players in the lower tiers, who solely depend on tournament winnings, without any chance to earn a living.

The men's ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women's circuit, suspended all tournaments until at least mid-July after countries started locking down their borders.

The Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 and a WTA Premier Mandatory event in early May featuring total prize money of $8.3 million ($A13.43m), was one of the events called off.

However, the tournament will now take place on the Tennis World Tour video game and run from April 27-30, "with the world's biggest tennis stars squaring off from their own homes," the ATP Tour said.

The online tennis tournament, which has yet to confirm participants, will have 16 men's and women's singles players in each draw and offer a purse of 150,000 euros ($A264,000) for both.

The winners will decide how much they want to donate to their fellow professionals while an additional 50,000 euros ($A81,000) will go towards reducing the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.