Day 2 of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown 1 saw five matches on the day's docket. Here's a running update of how the match-ups played out.
In a battle of one-handed backhands, both players had no problem keeping pace with one another until the end. “The Greek God” however, was the only one to convert his points times three card to make a late charge in the first quarter. He had a chance to extend his lead further, but Gasquet won the final point of the second to put his foot down.
Down 9-7 in the third, Tsitsipas caught fire, wisely implementing his steal serve ploy to grab the momentum in the crucial stage. “I need to be angry sometimes. It helps a lot, actually,” Tsitsipas said after responding to his shift in attitude when Gasquet executed an ace with a triple point on the line.
The Frenchman bolted out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth, before Tsitsipas made things interesting by raising his level to move within one point with 26 seconds left. Gasquet was forced to hit another serve with the 15-second clock and a well struck backhand down the line ensured sudden death would be played. In a scenario bringing up alternating match points after the first is played, Tsitsipas saved three, before drawing a netted backhand from the other side to eke out the win.
The two went back and forth all match long with strategic maneuvering of using their pre-selected cards. In the opening quarter, Lopez tied things up at 11-11 with 43 seconds to go, though had failed to capitalize on his points time three card. It left Popyrin with two serves, and "The Sniper" shut the door with an ace out wide. "Serves are going to be very important in this match," he said in an interview during the break.
With Popyrin leading 10-8 in the second, this time Lopez maximized his triple point card, proving the Australian’s theory correct when he fired consecutive aces to open a four-point advantage, one that was fruitful enough to draw even. With the score level at 13-13, Popyrin came up clutch by getting his serve off before the buzzer ended the third quarter, and came in on a good approach to close a forehand drop volley. He would win seven of the final eight points to wrap up the hard-fought win.
Goffin was up 12-9 late in the first quarter, but a double fault at 12-12 to end proceedings gave Berrettini all the momentum he needed. Swinging freely, "The Hammer" used his points times three card to perfection in the next two quarters by reaping the reward twice on each occasion. “I'm really happy with my performance,” Berretini said after securing victory over Goffin with 26 winners to just nine unforced errors. The two played out the fourth quarter as their overall averages will ultimately determine who qualifies for the knockout portion of the competition.
After splitting the first two quarters with Brown, France's Paire found himself down 7-2 to begin the third. His backhand, especially on return, had showed signs of potency to help Paire settle in. Trailing 12-10 with 2:37 left, "The Rebel" called a coaching timeout and used his first card of the match, steal a serve.
The waiting game paid off, as Paire won four successive points to surge ahead, and with a 15-13 lead, beat Brown to the punch in playing his winner counts times three card. In classic Paire style, he fired a huge ace to score the bonus points for the first time. A deflated Brown could only watch, as Paire carried his momentum through to run away with the fourth quarter, clinching his first win at the event.
Elliot Benchetrit d. Lucas Pouille, 16-11, 11-14, 12-14, 15-10, 3-1
Earlier, 21-year-old Benchetrit lived up to his "Underdog" event nickname, overcoming countryman Pouille in sudden death to secure his first win. In the winner-take-all bonus period, the first player to win two points in a row, and a forehand passing shot had enough on it to handcuff Pouille. The former Australian Open semifinalist suffered his second consecutive loss at the hands of sudden death.