The second night match of Sunday’s Ultimate Tennis Showdown took to the court preicely on time—that's the beauty of the new four-quarter format. The featured match saw Stefanos “The Greek God” Tstisipas face off against Benoit “The Rebel” Paire.
As one of the biggest stars based at Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy in Nice, France, Tsitsipas is right at home this month. His comfort level showed as he got off to a great start: a 24-4 first quarter beatdown over the 31-year-old Frenchman. Tstisipas' coach and father, Apostolos Tsitsipas, was heard saying his son was playing "like a god".
While Paire was struggling to get points, he seemed calm and composed in the mid-match interview, indicating that the match was far from over. In tournament promotion videos, players were asked why they would win the UTS title. Tsitsipas said “because every God deserve a crown” while Paire said “because they all suck”.
The UTS cards played a huge role in the previous match, which Richard Gasquet won over David Goffin in sudden-death overtime. Those two had the same cards, but for this match, Paire's coach chose "Winners Count x3" and "Steal Serve" while Tsitsipas was using "-1 serve" and "Steal Serve".
In quarter two, Tstisipas continued to cruise. It looked like the world No. 6 didn't need a bonus point card at all (the "Winner Count x3" is the equivalent of a basketball three-pointer).
"The flow and everything all of my tactics and the way that I approach the game has been working perfectly so far," Tsitsipas said mid-match. "I've managed to play the most relaxed tennis of my life so far."
While the day's previous four matches were all tight contests, The Greek God vs. The Rebel was a one-sided affair for most of the encounter. Tsitsipas could do no wrong, missing almost nothing and striking powerful winners off both wings.
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"I think he's ready to win the US Open already and not me," Paire said. "He's playing very well. I can't do this."
The third quarter finally got more interesting, though it didn't start off that way. Down 0-2, Paire played the "Winner Counts x3" card. Tsitsipas hit an insane return winner passing shot as a rebuttal, and then Paire missed a wild volley. Paire launched a ball out of the court, but received no penalty (warnings have only been enforced for going over the 15-second time limit between points).
Paire dug in, and at 13-13, he hit a sneaky passing shot to take the lead and ruffle Tstispas' feathers. A lot more subdued Greek sat down for the in-match chat this time.
The fourth quarter saw Tsitsipas get an early lead once more, but he couldn't maintain his near-flawless level. At 6-6, Paire played the "Winner Counts x3" once more and failed to convert, once more. Down 9-11 with 90 seconds left, Paire launched into a lengthy argument with the chair umpire, in French. He then used the "Steal Serve" card, but it wouldn't make any difference.
Tsitsipas put his foot on the gas to seal the fourth quarter 15-10, and the match, 3-1, for his first UTS win ever. Paire continued to moan until the very end, but then erupted into a big grin for the racquet tap.