In short, Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) is a groundbreaking tennis league created by Patrick Mouratoglou, the well-known coach of tennis star Serena Williams, and mentor of promising players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Coco Gauff, Alexei Popyrin, and Holger Rune.
It is a year-round league made up of distinct events. UTS’ first showdown series event (UTS1) featured 10 of the world’s best and most spectacular players. The player field included players such as Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, and David Goffin. In every event, a champion’s trophy and prize money are in play. The ultimate goal? Win UTS’ prestigious crown.
UTS1 took place from June 14 to July 12, 2020, at the Mouratoglou Academy, on the French Rivera. 10 “showdowns” were livestreamed on the UTS Live platform for 5 consecutive weekends, ending with The Final Four on Sunday July 12, accounting for a total of 48 showdowns. Future events will follow a similar format, according to its duration and the size of the player field.
UTS introduces a unique and innovative format, that consists of 40-minute intense matches, a lightened code of conduct, and unique novelties. For instance, UTS cards put a stronger emphasis on strategy, and add to the suspense. Also, live coaching and mid-match interviews allows fans to get inside of the players’ minds, and immerse into their universe.
Even though UTS is a no-spectator league, it will put its fan at the center of the action, trigger heightened emotions, and present tennis in a way that’s never even been thought of before. Fans will experience live tennis like never before.
“UTS aims to appeal a younger, more engaged new generation of fans in order to grow its fanbase community” – Patrick Mouratoglou
As the average tennis fan is 61 years old and that number is increasing each year, tennis is currently in a danger zone. As a sport, whether practiced or consumed, tennis is failing to renew its fan base and appeal to younger generations. Why?
First, modern-day tennis has a strong lack of emotion and diversity. Due in part to the evolution of the code of conduct, which has become increasingly rigid over the years, players have been forced to polish their personalities and fit into a certain mold that the sport has created for them. As a result, there are currently no McEnroe or Connors, players that truly share their personality and emotions with the fans, and that the fans, in turn, can genuinely relate to.
Second, there is a lack of modernity in the sport. Tennis has been stagnant for more than 40 years, sticking to the same rules and traditions. It has failed to adapt to a changing reality and to appeal to new generations who completely stand out from previous ones. New generations, for instance, don’t want to sit still in silence for 3 hours to watch a tennis match; they want faster, more intense, and ready-to-consume content.
Basically, there is an urging need to reinvent the way tennis is played, watched, and consumed.
Patrick Mouratoglou transformed the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 situation into a window of opportunity. With the tour being on pause, he quickly took action to introduce a completely novel concept that aims to give tennis the breath of fresh air that it desperately needs.
UTS’ goal is to build a long term, international league of showdown series events that will offer an alternative to the traditional tours. Eventually, events will take place all over the world. UTS is not designed to be a one-time hit; If UTS is a movie, we mean to make it a saga. Or think of it as the Netflix’s next binge-worthy TV show.
On a deeper level, UTS’ aim is to bring new generations and other sports fans to discover and appreciate tennis, in order to grow and solidify the tennis fan base.
UTS is looking to take a step back from the traditional tennis experience and engage fans in an entirely different way. UTS will not present just tennis match, it will present showdowns. Adapted for younger generations, UTS will create a virtual show inspired by e-sport.
Through an engaging and interactive format, fans will inevitably feel closer and better connected to tennis stars, and experience heightened emotions. Viewers will hear conversations between the players and their coaches, as on-court and video coaching will be allowed. With a lightened code of conduct, and a more laid-back and playful atmosphere, players will carry themselves more freely on-court and show their true personality. UTS will profile players in a completely different way, with a focus on behind-the-scenes and storytelling.
Its unique format includes:
Although there will be a stronger emphasis on entertainment, UTS remains a serious competition, not an exhibition.
All in all, there is no doubt that UTS will be tennis’ most exciting and innovating league.
UTS features the world’s best and most spectacular players. In UTS1, for instance, 4 current Top 10 players took part of the competition (Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, and David Goffin). In addition to being amongst the world’s best tennis players, each UTS participant is picked because he could be a movie character. They’re all flamboyantly different; all spectacular in their very own way.
UTS’ match format is completely reinvented and stands out from traditional tennis.
Every showdown is composed of fast-paced matches made up of 4 quarters of 10 minutes each. The matches are timed, and it’s the player with the most point at the end of a quarter who wins the quarter. If players are tied 2-2, they will play a sudden death to determine the winner. To win a sudden death, you simply have to win two points in a row, which means that every point after the first automatically becomes a match point.
During the quarters, players serve two points before they alternate servers. In the sudden death, they alternate after every single point, and the server choses where he wishes to serve.
UTS introduces a variety of new rules including:
UTS does not serve as a replacement for neither the ATP nor ITF tours, or any pre-existing professional tennis tournaments and circuits. Instead, it provides an alternative to what is already offered, and will operate independently from other organizations and circuits. Although not an exhibition, UTS will offer a greater amount of entertainment value.
UTS1: June 14 to July 12
UTS2: July 25 to August 2
More events to come…
The first two showdown series events are taking place on-site at the Mouratoglou Academy, in the South of France. However, the league will not host spectators for the time being.
Every match will be streamed live on UTS’ Live platform. Viewers can subscribe to UTS’ Premium Pass, which will give them unlimited and exclusive access to all of UTS’ showdowns year-round.
To subscribe, head to UTS’ streaming website: www.watch.utslive.tv.
As UTS’ intention is to become a year-round league, we can expect future competitions to take place in all parts of the world.
The UTS prize money system is not a winner-take-all system. Instead, it will follow a 70:30 ratio where the match winner will receive 70 percent of the showdown prize pool, while the loser still receives 30 percent of that pool.
This win-win formula will help lower-ranked players generate a sustainable income playing tennis. Although the financial stakes remain high and the motivation to win is omnipresent, it will lift some stress off players ranked outside the Top 100.
Safety, as always, comes first and is UTS’ top priority. UTS will comply with locally enforced social distancing requirements to ensure the safety of players, coaches, and a limited number of UTS staff on site.