UTS Day 9/Semifinals Preview: Can anyone catch Tsitsipas?

Tsitsipas. Gasquet. Berrettini. Goffin. The UTS Semis are set. Here’s why each ave a shot at winning the tournament crown.

After four weeks of play, the UTS semifinals have finally been set. Three matches will decide the champion of Patrick Mouratoglou’s inaugural Ultimate Tennis Showdown. Who’s going to take the crown?

The Greek God (Stefanos Tsitsipas)

The biggest question heading into Sunday’s matchups is whether or not Tsitsipas can be beaten. It looked like it was possible after his loss to Dominic Thiem two weeks ago but ever since then, he’s been virtually unstoppable. He’s achieved wins over Berrettini, Feliciano Lopez, and Alexei Popyrin, who were all in contention up until the last day.

Tsitsipas has a +97 point differential, which is 28 points higher than the next (Berrettini with +72). The Greek God isn’t only winning; he’s destroying his opponents in the process. He’s looking like a winner on paper.

The Virtuoso (Richard Gasquet)

Gasquet, adequately dubbed “The Virtuoso”, has a very impressive track record. He’s the only player in the tournament that was able to beat Dominic Thiem (the presumptive favorite after his arrival). He narrowly lost to Tsitsipas in sudden death and was a mere point from winning it.

Gasquet hasn’t had the flashy hot streak in comparison to Tsitsipas and Berrettini but has had his fair share of consecutive wins. He’s won his last three in a row with a quarter record of  9-4. He’s going to be a tough opponent for Berrettini, regardless of the outcome of their last match (Berrettini won 4-0).

The Hammer (Matteo Berrettini)

The Hammer was the story of the first three weeks as he went 4-1, racing to the top spot in the process. He looked unbeatable but faltered at the tail end of that third week, losing to Thiem and Tsitsipas back-to-back. Questions swirled about his chances against the top dogs. Luckily for him, those questions only lasted a week as he dominated Alexei Popyrin 4-0 on the last day of the group stage to secure his spot in the semis.

The question is still in the air: Will he get back to his top form from the first few weeks and have a legitimate shot to dethrone Tsitsipas? That is certainly a 50-50 shot as of now, given the newfound strength of his opponent.

The Wall (David Goffin)

Looking at Goffin, he was consistently one of the better players in the event throughout the last four weeks, just not up to par with the three above him. After a shaky start during the first two days which saw him slip to 0-2, he’s stepped up his game mightly with a 5-1 record to finish group play. His only loss came to Thiem.

He fought off his fellow players on the ropes through the last four matches, most notably Lopez and Popyrin (who finished 6th and 7th). He’s certainly a threat to surprise Tsitsipas in the semis (he nearly took down Berrettini during Week 1) but will need to be at the top of his game to do it.

How can the standings switch after Saturday’s matches?

The standings can very well switch after “placement day”. Here are the likely scenarios:

Tsitsipas and Gasquet’s battle for #1

  1. If Tsitsipas wins (vs Goffin), he retains the #1 spot
  2. If Gasquet loses (vs Paire), Tsitsipas remains #1

If Gasquet wins and Tsitsipas loses, Gasquet will take over the #1 spot, moving Tsitsipas down to #2.

Berrettini’s all-important finish

  1. Berrettini needs a 4-0 or 3-1 win (vs Moutet) to take the #3 spot from Goffin
  2. Goffin needs a win and a 3-2 win/any loss from Berrettini to retain the #3 spot

What if…Thiem didn’t pull out?

One of the surprises of the event so far with Thiem’s withdrawal. He was ripping through his opponent in the short time he took part in the tournament, collecting wins over Tsitsipas, Berrettini, and Goffin. He looked to be a huge threat to the players at the top; fans were thrilled to see another top player join the field and possibly shake up the event.

Thiem would’ve had to battle through from the bottom of the rankings, given his late start, but he had already taken on all four of the top four players. Thiem was the clear favorite against everyone else. It’s very possible that “The Dominator” could’ve finished 5-1, which would’ve granted him the top spot over Tsitsipas due to his projected quarter record.

Unfortunately for fans (and luckily for the top four), Thiem won’t be participating in the semifinals. What would’ve happened if he were is anyone’s guess.

Day 9 Placement Day Match Schedule

  1. The Virtuoso (Richard Gasquet) vs The Rebel (Benoit Paire)
  2. The Sniper (Alexei Popyrin) vs The Artist (Dustin Brown)
  3. The Hammer (Matteo Berrettini) vs The Tornado (Corentin Moutet)
  4. The Greek God (Stefanos Tsitsipas) vs The Wall (David Goffin)
  5. The Torero (Feliciano Lopez) vs The Underdog (Elliot Benchetrit)
Next: Tennis proves why sports aren't ready for fans

The UTS Semifinals begin Sunday, July 12th.

 

 

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