The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is wacky. However, it consistently proves why it’s a perfect example of “COVID Tennis”.
Over the last few days, tennis has been turned on its head. Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour suffered major casualties, with 4 players, 2 coaches, and two wives of players all testing positive for COVID-19. Fans, players, and analysts all gave Djokovic his fair share of backlash for the many protocols and safety measures that he disregarded in favor of bringing tennis its first tournament with fans since the virus lockdown.
What emerged out of the chaos is a realization: Patrick Mouratoglou’s weird and crazy new Ultimate Tennis Showdown is the perfect example of what quarantine tennis should be.
On the surface, its nothing more than a wacky tournament scored with quarters and points instead of sets and games. However, what it does is bring some of the world’s best players to the tops of their games (while following the correct social distancing practices, etc).
Take a look at the current standings. Through two weekends of play, the top four is as follows:
- Richard Gasquet (50th in the world)
- Matteo Berrettini (8th)
- Stefanos Tsitsipas (6th)
- David Goffin (10th)
Three of the top four players are inside the top ten in the world, and the only other player (Gasquet) is one of the well-respected and liked players on tour. Dominic Thiem, current World #3, is also competing but is behind due to arriving a week late (another factor of the Adria Tour).
Thiem’s match against Zverev last weekend was arguably the best showing of tennis we’ve had since the sport went into lockdown. From spectacular one-handed backhands painting the lines to Thiem’s incredible performance at the net, the UTS has given tennis premier matches from its first day of play. Unlike the Fast4 format used at the Adria Tour, the system used here makes every point count. The players certainly take this into account and every point played at the UTS has proved exciting.
What’s truly great about the UTS is how any player can create magic. Corentin Moutet, ranked 75th in the world, put on an absolute show this past weekend against Alexei Popyrin. Moutet won the match 4-0 and included this incredible passing shot for 3 points (winner X3 was used). He controlled the match the entire way, kept Popyrin on his heels with the groundstroke, and finished points at the net with ease.
Nothing could be complete without some virtuosic Gasquet backhands. The World #50 has put together two great weekends with wins against Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, and Dustin Brown. He narrowly lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in sudden death during the first weekend.
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is quarantine tennis’ premier event. It showcases the best players in the world at the top of their games. The rules, while completely crazy for some, gives every point a meaning and brings the best out of players. It provides fans with top-tier tennis on any given point between any two players.
With the disaster that was the Adria Tour, the UTS has been there to give fans a suitable and safe replacement, guaranteeing the safety of all athletes as they look to return to normal play in August.
The UTS’ third weekend of the group stage (out of 4) begins June 27th.
June 27th match schedule:
Match #1: The Wall (David Goffin) (2-2, 10-8) vs The Dominator (Dominic Thiem) (1-1, 4-4)
Match #2: The Rebel (Benoit Paire) (2-2, 7-9) vs The Sniper (Alexei Popyrin) (6-10)
Match #3: The Torero (Feliciano Lopez) (2-2, 10-8) vs The Greek God (Stefanos Tsitsitpas) (3-1, 10-7)
Match #4: The Tornado (Corentin Moutet) (1-1, 5-3) vs The Artist (Dustin Brown) (0-4, 3-13)
Match #5: The Virtuoso (Richard Gasquet) (3-1, 12-6) vs The Hammer (Matteo Berrettini) (3-1, 10-6)
Analysis and coverage for the UTS’ third weekend will continue here at Lob and Smash.