Tennis fans have endured one of the longest COVID-19-related droughts of any sport, starved of top-class action since the ATP World Tour’s events in Dubai and Acapulco – won by megastars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, respectively – concluded in late February.
Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II, while the French Open has been postponed until September. The ATP World Tour is not scheduled to return until the Washington Open on 3 August.
But the tireless efforts of famed coach Patrick Mouratoglou sees some of the hottest players in men’s tennis back on the court in the south of France from this weekend, courtesy of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. Punters can place tennis bets on top-20 stars for the first time in almost four months, with tennis odds and tennis betting options available on all UTS matches.
HOW DOES THE ULTIMATE TENNIS SHOWDOWN WORK?
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is the brainchild of French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who counts big guns Serena Williams, Coco Gauff and Stefanos Tsitsipas among his current stable of players.
News of the audacious plan broke in late April, with Mouratoglou and co-founder Alex Popyrin (father of Australian up-and-comer Alexei) promising to bring a host of high-profile players to Mouratoglou Academy’s courts in the French Riviera.
Mouratoglou’s aim is to attract a younger fanbase to the game with the UTS, encouraging the players to put their true personalities on display.
“The average age of tennis fans is 61, and it keeps getting older and older.”
— UTS | Ultimate Tennis Showdown (@UTShowdown) June 9, 2020
Matches will be staged over the next five weekends, before the quarterfinals, semis and final are all played on 12 July. The top two players after the round robin progress straight to the semis, with the next four playing off in quarterfinals.
Alexei Popyrin and world number 10 David Goffin were the first players confirmed for the UTS, with another eight signing on in recent weeks to make up an exciting cast.
WHICH STARS HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE UTS?
Alexei Popyrin is one of only two players in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown outside the ATP top 100 (he sits 103rd), but the Sydney 20-year-old is destined for big things. The 2017 Junior French Open champ claimed the scalps of Dominic Thiem and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, respectively, at the past two Australian Opens. Popyrin is sure to foil a few conservative tennis bets at the UTS.
A three-time grand slam quarterfinalist, the 29-year-old David Goffin has been one of the most consistent players on the ATP World Tour in recent seasons. Nabbing the Belgian’s services from the outset was a significant get for Mouratoglou and co.
Patrick Mouratoglou and Alex Popyrin are putting together quite the lineup for the #UTShowdown!
🇧🇪 David Goffin
🇮🇹 Fabio Fognini
🇫🇷 Benoit Paire
🇫🇷 Lucas Pouille
🇦🇺 Alexei Popyrin
🇩🇪 Dustin Brown
— Break Point (@BreakPointPod) May 11, 2020
Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet make up the local French contingent in the competition. World number 22 Paire is the highest ranked of the trio, having reached four ATP finals in the past 14 months. World number 58 Pouille was a semifinal bolter at the 2019 Australian Open, while veteran Gasquet – currently ranked 50th – has been to the final four of a grand slam three times.
Flamboyant Jamaican-German Dustin Brown may be a lowly 239th in the rankings at present, but his reputation as a crowd-pleaser makes him an ideal pick-up for the UTS. His upset of longtime top-five player Alexander Zverev in Stuttgart last year was a reminder of the tennis the 35-year-old still has in him.
Félix Auger-Aliassime, still only 19 but ranked inside the top 20, inked his UTS deal in late May. The precocious Canadian has already made five ATP finals – losing three of them to fellow UTS entrants.
But Auger-Aliassime has twice toppled world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas, who along with Matteo Berrettini was announced as the latest Ultimate Tennis Showdown acquisitions in the past week – the new tournament’s biggest coup to date.
Greece’s Tsitsipas reached the Australian Open semis and won the ATP Finals in a breakout 2019 season to loom as one of the most likely tyros to break the ‘Big Three’s’ grand slam monopoly. World number eight Berrettini truly announced himself with a semifinal run at the 2019 US Open; the 24-year-old is another player at the forefront of tennis’ generation next. The pair can expect to be tennis betting favourites at short tennis odds throughout the UTS.
— UTS | Ultimate Tennis Showdown (@UTShowdown) June 4, 2020
World number 11 Fabio Fognini was forced to withdraw from the UTS after being one of the first four players to initially commit, but there’s said to be another top-10 player who will join the field.
WHO PLAYS WHO IN THE FIRST ROUND OF UTS MATCHES?
The UTS kicks off with four exciting match-ups (and possibly a fifth) on Saturday for your tennis bets.
David Goffin and Matteo Berrettini get the competition underway. Berrettini may have the edge according to the tennis odds, but Goffin won the only previous meeting between the players.
The wily Richard Gasquet will have to overcome tennis betting tips to get the win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The ledger in matches between the pair is square at one-all.
The two youngest UTS competitors lock horns on opening day, with Félix Auger-Aliassime and Alexei Popyrin eager to get off to a winning start. Popyrin can expect to go in as a distinct underdog.
Lastly, ATP World Tour stalwarts Dustin Brown and Benoit Paire meet for the fourth time in their careers. Brown leads the count 2–1.
Lucas Pouille is currently the odd man out, although he will presumably line up against the as-yet-unnamed 10th player.
Full schedule 🗓
June 13-14: Matchdays 1-2
June 20-21: Matchdays 3-4
June 27-28: Matchdays 5-6
July 4-5: Matchdays 7-8
July 11: Matchday 9
July 12: Knockout stage (quarterfinals + semifinals + final) pic.twitter.com/Bd2CgJtyL4
— UTS | Ultimate Tennis Showdown (@UTShowdown) June 8, 2020
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