Can Richard Gasquet be beaten? Who’s going to come out of the four-way Group B tie? Many questions have to be answered following the hectic UTS2 Day 2.
Match #1: The Artist (Dustin Brown) def. The Tornado (Corentin Moutet) 3-2
An unexpected victory by Brown kicked off Day 2. As one of the weakest players in UTS1, Brown wasn’t expected to make much noise during the sequel but put together one of his best matches in a while against Moutet.
Brown opened up the match with an 18-12 first quarter win, utilizing his vicious serve and volley tactics to his advantage. Moutet battled back very well and took the next two quarters 17-13 and 14-13. Brown wasn’t out of the running just yet and ripped 7 winners on his way to a dominating 19-9 fourth-quarter win to send the match into sudden death.
It was Brown who won the sudden death with an incredible feat of athleticism, diving to the ground for a forehand volley winner.
He still sits in last place in Group B but has a slight advantage moving forward. His point differential (-2) ranks third in the group and is only a half-point behind the leader. He’ll have to go 2-0 next weekend to have a shot at the top four.
Match #2: El Torero (Feliciano Lopez) def. Grigor (Grigor Dimitrov) 3-2
Lopez’s second match of the tournament didn’t come as easy as he would’ve hoped. Matching up against Dimitrov (who was bageled yesterday), he looked to put together a second convincing win to mark his place as one of the best. After a 17-10 opening quarter win, it seemed to be going just the way he wanted.
Dimitrov finally broke the ice and won his first UTS quarter, taking the 2nd 15-14 in a deciding point. He carried his momentum into the third and took that as well with a slightly more comfortable 16-12 win.
Lopez wasn’t going away, however, and proved what he’s capable of as he took the match into sudden death. The Spaniard didn’t let Dimitrov get a point in the showdown quarter and took his record to 2-0 with the match win.
The loss takes Dimitrov out of contention for the final four, regardless of his record next weekend. While he did put on a good showing, he came up just short when it counted. Lopez, on the other hand, is battling with Gasquet for the top spot in Group A and should be a lock for the final four barring a major slipup.
Match #3: The Virtuoso (Richard Gasquet) def. The Sniper (Alexei Popyrin) 3-1
Gasquet simply can’t be beaten at this event. He moves to 2-0 with the commanding win over the struggling Popyrin. Apart from a narrow third-quarter loss to keep the match interesting, The #1-ranked Frenchman commanded the match from start to finish. The Sniper didn’t seem to be aiming correctly this match and committed 20 unforced errors on his way to the loss.
Popyrin took himself out of contention for the final after losing today and will join Dimitrov as the only two players who aren’t eligible for the semifinals after only one week. He’ll look on from the sidelines to see how the matches play out.
Gasquet is a lock for the final four and will look to take the #1 seed from Lopez with a win next weekend.
Match #4: El Fuego (Fernando Verdasco) def. The Rebel (Benoit Paire) 3-1
Paire’s one match win steak came to an end today against Verdasco and was thoroughly outclassed throughout its entirety. El Fuego came out firing and took the first three quarters 17-13, 19-11, and 17-14. He played a nearly flawless match and only faltered once the result had already been decided.
The victories by Verdasco and Brown put Group B in a 4-way tie heading into next Saturday’s final match, with only two spots available. No one has a clear advantage over the other; Verdasco currently has a half-point lead over Paire for first but has a worse point differential than him (+3 to +8).
The same goes for Brown, who sits a half-game back from Verdasco but has a -2 point differential. Moutet’s -9 point differential puts him furthest away from taking one of the top two spots despite ranking third currently. It’ll be a tense day of matches come next weekend.
Post-Day 2 Standings
- Richard Gasquet (2-0, 7-1, +30)
- Feliciano Lopez (2-0, 6-3, +14)
- Alexei Popyrin (0-2, 2-6, -17)
- Grigor Dimitrov (0-2, 2-7, -27)
- Fernando Verdasco (1-1, 5-4, +3)
- Benoit Paire (1-1, 4-4, +8)
- Corentin Moutet (1-1, 5-5, -9)
- Dustin Brown (1-1, 4-5, -2)
The final weekend of the men’s event, as well as the women’s event, will begin Saturday, August 1st.