I haven’t written an article since last February. So you can imagine how happy I was when I started writing this one. Before starting, I wanted to inform you that an update of the mobile application is available for Android and iOS. Don’t forget to download it. 🙂
UTS, what is it?
The UTS, or Ultimate Tennis Showdown, was created by Patrick Mouratoglou. He’s a well known man in the business. Coach of Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou is also the mentor of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Cori Gauff or Alexei Popyrin (to name but a few). The latter are graduates of his academy.
This tournament is meant to be innovative, with faster matches than usual and lighter rules. According to Patrick Mouratoglou, current tennis lacks emotion and diversity, mainly because of the increasingly rigid code of conduct. Players must now fit into the mould and avoid being too expressive (Cuckoo Kyrgios).
In reality, Mouratoglou wants to do something different, breaking away from the usual routine and attracting a new generation of fans. In fact, he announced that the average age of a tennis fan is 61. I have to admit that I’m surprised by this information, and I’m curious to get the source (it would come from the US, but I don’t know more). Unless it’s true, and you’re all 30 years older than me (cheer up, you’re close to retirement, that’s something).
To achieve this goal, the UTS wants to make a big splash by offering a show, of course, but also by bringing the spectators closer to the players. To this end, field coaching will be allowed. The coaches will even have a buzzer to activate it, and we will of course be able to attend the discussions. There will also be interviews at each change of sides where the players will be able to answer questions from the spectators.
SWU is not meant to be ephemeral. The objective is to build a league parallel to the traditional circuit and organize tournaments around the world.
A tennis match is a marathon, a UTS match is more of a sprint.Patrick Mouratoglou
UTS1: First edition
This first edition, called UTS 1, will be played from June 13 to July 12, 2020, only on weekends, at the Mouratoglou Academy in the south-east of France.
The competition will be broadcast live on the official tournament website (9.99 euros for one month), but also on Eurosport (for France, I don’t know about the other countries).
The participants are known. They have been selected according to their personalities and their level. Also, it was obviously necessary to find players interested in the project and having the possibility to go to the competition site.
- Dominic THIEM (3e)
- Stefanos TSITSIPAS (6e)
- Matteo BERRETTINI (8e)
- David GOFFIN (10e)
- Benoit PAIRE (22e)
- Richard GASQUET (50e)
- Feliciano LOPEZ (56e)
- Lucas POUILLE (58e)
- Alexei POPYRIN (103e)
- Dustin BROWN (239e)
Let’s be clear, we are far from having the best players on the circuit (even if we still have 4 players in the Top 10). Nevertheless, there should be a good enough level to allow us to watch some crispy matches. Ah, finally!
This competition will therefore be played over 5 consecutive weekends. There will be a maximum of 5 matches on Saturday and 5 on Sunday.
The 10 players will all compete in a pool phase where there will be points to be won depending on the opponent (jackpot for Dustin Brown if he beats Dominic Thiem?). The first 6 will qualify: in the semi-finals for the first two, in the quarter-finals for the other 4.
We were expecting a format like the Next Gen, with sets in 4 games and without any advantage. But Patrick Mouratoglou saw things differently.
A match will consist of 4 quarters of 10 minutes each. In the event of a tie, there will be a fifth in “sudden death”: the players will take turns serving and the winner will be the one who gets two points in a row. It should go fast.
So we forget about sets, games and the traditional scoring. In addition, players will serve twice in a row as in tie-break and will have a two-minute break between quarters.
But wait, that’s not all.
There will also be UTS Cards. And now you’re looking at me with big eyes. That’s when I go Steve Jobs and say, “This is a revolution!” (or a demolition?)
More seriously, yes, the UTS is meant to be a serious competition so let’s not overdo it. Each player will get 4 “bonus” cards at the beginning of the game that can influence the match and that can be used at any time. A card that gives two points instead of one, another card that gives 3 straight serves instead of 2, etc. Uh, is it still tennis?
I’m quite mixed about this new competition. It is true that tennis needs to renew itself a little bit, but I am not sure that the change has to be as major as that. When I read these news, I found it hard to find the soul of this sport. Maybe we should give him a chance.
What do you think? Feel free to give me your opinion on social networks and answer the short poll below :