UTS2 Men’s Final Four Preview: Can anyone stop Richard Gasquet?

The final two days of UTS2 are about to begin. Here is a look at the standings, semifinals scenarios, and more.

The men’s sequel to the Ultimate Tennis Showdown is reaching its final two days. Last weekend saw Richard Gasquet absolutely dominate his competition as he went 2-0, losing only one quarter in the process. Feliciano Lopez wasn’t too far off, however, and was the only other competitor to go 2-0 last weekend.

The first two matches ended with a logjam in Group B. All four players (Fernando Verdasco, Benoit Paire, Corentin Moutet, Dustin Brown) are tied at 1-1 and hold the narrowest of margins over each other. Verdasco currently holds the top spot in the group due to his quarter record of 5-4 (only a half-point better than 2nd-place Paire).

Saturday’s action will decide the four members of the event who will move onto the semifinals. Gasquet and Lopez and locked into the final four due to the records of the other two members of their group (Popyrin and Dimitrov both went 0-2).

The top two players from each group will make up the final four and will be seeded based on quarter record and point differential.

Three new UTS rookies join the field for a taste of the action

It was expected that Alexander Zverev (The Lion) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (The Panther) would be competing on both weekends of UTS2 but didn’t make in appearance to start the event. This weekend, however, the two will face off against each other in their only match of the event. It’s odd to have missed them for the start of the event but this could also be a sign that a third UTS event could be in the works, starting Zverev and Auger-Aliassime.

The final UTS rookie is going to be a substitute for Alexei Popyrin. Due to the fact that he and his Saturday opponent (Dimitrov) are both eliminated from finals contention, Popyrin has graciously allowed a new competitor to the mix: Frenchman Nicolas Mahut (dubbed “The Musketeer” for the match).

Mahut could also be a possible UTS3 competitor if the event does in fact take place.

Saturday match predictions

Day 3 of UTS2 is going to a huge day for Group B. 4 players are vying for just two spots.

Match #1: The Musketeer (Nicolas Mahut) vs Grigor (Grigor Dimitrov)

This match will have no effect on the final standings which is the main reason why it will be going out first. Regardless, Dimitrov has the advantage going into the match due to his two days of previous UTS experience. Mahut will have some moments but will need time to adjust to the fast-paced style of play that the tournament brings to the table.

Match #2: The Rebel (Benoit Paire) vs The Tornado (Corentin Moutet)

This is a critical match for both involved. Paire currently sits second in his group and, with a win, will secure a spot in the final four. Moutet is on the outside and is arguably in the worst position of the four to take one of the top two spots. Despite having a 5-5 record (tied for second with Paire in that regard and a half point above Brown), Moutet has a -9 point differential. It puts him last in the group, 12 points behind Verdasco, and an astonishing 17 points behind Paire.

Moutet’s inability to keep losing quarters close is going to be his undoing. While he might be a more consistent player overall, the UTS is a points game first and foremost. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, his compatriot and opponent simply piles on the points better.

Match #3: El Fuego (Fernando Verdasco) vs The Artist (Dustin Brown)

Brown put together a surprising victory last Sunday against Corentin Moutet. Posting 19 winners in a sudden-death victory, this was easily his best match of the last 6 weeks. Verdasco, on the other hand, had a slightly easier path to a win after losing in sudden death to Moutet the week prior. El Fuego was certainly, well, on fire against Paire as he put up 53 points in only three quarters.

Once again, points are crucial, and Verdasco knows how to bump up his total. He was mere points from winning his match against Moutet to bring him to 2-0 for the tournament. Brown, on the other hand, had a rough time against Paire and should struggle against Verdasco, as well, enough to hand him the loss and take him out of contention for the final four.

Relive Last Week's UTS Action: Gasquet dominates again, Lopez close behind after UTS2 Day 2

Match #4: The Virtuoso (Richard Gasquet) vs El Torero (Feliciano Lopez)

As easily the two best players in UTS2, they both have one thing in common: experience. Both players played in UTS1 and had very solid showings. They got used to the style of play that’s vastly different than normal ATP tournament play. Having consistent groundstrokes and superior placement skills are the two major keys to success at this event. For Gasquet and Lopez, they’ve proven to be the best this time around.

This match is nothing more than a placement match for the semis but it could prove to be a vital win for either of the two. A blowout win by Gasquet could send Lopez all the way down to fourth if Paire or Verdasco record a blowout win of their own. If Gasquet wins 4-0, Lopez would slip to a 6-7 quarter record, which could easily be passed by Verdasco or Paire with a win of any kind (3-2, 3-1, 4-0). This would set up a very difficult rematch in the semis for Lopez.

Unfortunately, I’m leaning towards a blowout by Gasquet. He’s been playing incredible tennis since June and hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. Dating back to UTS1, he’s won 6 of his last 7 matches and almost won all seven if not for a narrow loss to eventual champion, Matteo Berrettini, in sudden death of the semifinals.

Match #5: The Lion (Alexander Zverev) vs The Panther (Felix Auger-Aliassime)

This will certainly be a very interesting match between the two UTS rookies. Aliassime hasn’t appeared in much exhibition action at all, while Zverev has put on an underwhelming showing at the Adria Tour. Despite this, Zverev’s game is more tailored to UTS play: big-hitting groundstrokes paired with great court coverage. It’ll be tough for Aliassime to fend off the World #7’s raw power point after point.

Standings and semifinal scenarios

Group A

  1. Richard Gasquet (2-0, 7-1, +30)
  2. Feliciano Lopez (2-0, 6-3, +14)

Group B

  1. Fernando Verdasco (1-1, 5-4, +3)
  2. Benoit Paire (1-1, 4-4, +8)
  3. Corentin Moutet (1-1, 5-5, -9)
  4. Dustin Brown (1-1, 4-5, -2)

Scenario A – If all seedings hold:

(1) Richard Gasquet vs (4) Benoit Paire

(2) Feliciano Lopez vs (3) Fernando Verdasco

Scenario B – Gasquet beats Lopez 4-0, Paire/Verdasco both win:

(1) Richard Gasquet vs (4) Feliciano Lopez

(2) Fernando Verdasco vs (3) Benoit Paire

Scenario C – Lopez beats Gasquet, Paire/Verdasco both win:

(1) Feliciano Lopezvs (4) Benoit Paire

(2) Richard Gasquet vs (3) Fernando Verdasco

Scenario D – Brown beats Verdasco 3-1, Paire wins:

(1) Gasquet/Lopez vs (4) Dustin Brown

(2) Lopez/Gasquet vs (3) Benoit Paire

Scenario E – Moutet beats Paire, Verdasco wins:

(1) Gasquet/Lopez vs (4) Corentin Moutet

(2) Lopez/Gasquet vs (3) Fernando Lopez

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There are too many scenarios to go through but in short: All 6 players that are still in contention have a shot to win. Saturday’s action is going to be tense. UTS2 Day 3 begins at 2:30 PM CEST (8:30 AM EST).