The second edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown—aptly named UTS2—kicks off this weekend at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, France. Eight ATP competitors will be in action, with their sights set on getting through to the final four.
Two notable names are playing UTS for the first time. As part of a new tournament format, No. 7-ranked Alexander Zverev and No. 20-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime received direct entry into the semifinals, which will take place on August 2.
Auger-Aliassime was scheduled 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 commented. “I’ve been watching what Patrick has done with UTS1 - the level was high, and the organization was very professional. I can’t wait to play this format.”
The other eight players in the men’s event will battle it out across two groups for the right to join Auger-Aliassime and Zverev. Group A features Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Gasquet, Feliciano Lopez and Alexei Popyrin and Group B boasts Benoit Paire, Fernando Verdasco, Corentin Moutet and Dustin Brown. The top finisher in each group after August 1 will move forward, with the first two 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 three-time Grand Slam semifinalists and former Top 10 players; Paire meeting Brown; and Moutet facing Verdasco, who’s also a former Top 10 player and Grand Slam semifinalist.
Ultimate Tennis Showdown
Dimitrov against Gasquet could turn out to be the match of the day, not just given their resumes but also their head-to-head history. They’ve played each other eight times before and the Frenchman leads, 5-3, but the Bulgarian has won their last three meetings—all in straight sets. Gasquet will have the benefit of 10 UTS matches under his belt, going 7-3 en route to a semifinal showing earlier this month.
Day 2 of round-robin play on Sunday will see Moutet face Brown, Dimitrov battle Lopez, Gasquet take on Popyrin and Paire square off against Verdasco. The third and final day of round-robin play will be on Saturday, August 1.
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.
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 headed that way soon, too. The Tunisian reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 2020 Australian Open and afterwards, made her Top 50 debut, peaking at No. 39.