10 ATP and 4 WTA players are in action from this weekend in the second edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, aptly named UTS2, at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, France.
I have been looking forward to competing again, and I’m excited that it’s finally happening. I’ve been watching what Patrick has done with UTS1 - the level was high, and the organisation was very professional. I can’t wait to play this format. Felix Auger-Aliassime
The men are setting their sights set on joining Alexander Zverev and Felix Auger-Aliassime, both of whom have been given direct entry into the final four on 2 August as part of the new tournament format,.
No 20-ranked Auger-Aliassime was due to play the first edition of UTS, but had to pull out a few days before the event due to injury.
“I have been looking forward to competing again, and I’m excited that it’s finally happening,” the Canadian said. “I’ve been watching what Patrick has done with UTS1 – the level was high, and the organisation was very professional. I can’t wait to play this format.”
The other 8 players in the men’s event will battle it out across 2 groups for the right to join Auger-Aliassime and Zverev, ranked No 7 in the world.
Group A features Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Gasquet, Feliciano Lopez and Alexei Popyrin, while Group B boasts Benoit Paire, Fernando Verdasco, Corentin Moutet and Dustin Brown.
The top finisher in each group after 1 August will move forward, with the first 2 waves of round-robin matches taking place this Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s order of play features Lopez taking on Popyrin; Dimitrov facing Gasquet in a battle between 3-time Grand Slam semi-finalists and former Top 10 players; Paire meeting Brown; and Moutet facing Verdasco, who is also a former Top 10 player and Grand Slam semi-finalist.
Dimitrov against Gasquet could turn out to be the match of the day, with their head-to-head history, having played each other 8 times before and the Frenchman leading, 5-3, but the Bulgarian has won their last 3 outings in straight sets.
Gasquet, however, has the benefit of 10 UTS matches under his belt, winning 7-3 en route to a semi-final showing earlier this month.
Day 2 of round-robin play on Sunday sees Moutet face Brown, Dimitrov battle Lopez, Gasquet take on Popyrin and Paire squares off against Verdasco.
The third and final day of round-robin play will be on Saturday, 1 August.
There are some notable additions to the UTS format since the first edition of the event, including a “No-Let” rule – if a serve hits the net and goes in, players will play on without replaying the serve.
UTS2 also includes a women’s event, with Alize Cornet, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ons Jabeur and 13-year-old newcomer Brenda Fruhvirtova taking to the court on 1-2 August.
Cornet and Pavlyuchenkova have both spent years in the upper echelon of women’s tennis, with Cornet rising as high as No.11 and Pavlyuchenkova climbing to No 13, and Jabeur could be heading that way soon, too.
The Tunisian reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the 2020 Australian Open and afterwards, made her Top 50 debut, peaking at No 39.
Viewers can watch UTS2 Day 1 on Saturday 25th and Day 2 on Sunday 26th July for free by registering on utslive.tv.