Patrick Mouratoglou, not only is a great coach (long-time Serena Williams’ coach and more great players), has a fantastic academy in the French Riviera, but is also testing now a new competition format. And as expected with him, it cannot be the same as usual, it is indeed very disruptive, and it starts on Saturday. Important considering the average fan age is 61 and growing older every year in the last 20 years. Tennis is in a danger zone if nothing is done, and Patrick is trying something that can set the tone for the future.
What is UTS?
UTS stands for Ultimate Tennis Showdown
10 players will compete to compete in a round-robin format over five weeks: Dominic Thiem, Stefano Tsitsipas, Matteo Berretini, David Goffin, Alexei Popyrin, Feliciano Lopez, Benoit Paire, Richard Gasquet, Dustin Brown,
Each player has a nickname, based on its personality or tennis style. For example Tsitsipas is the Greek God, The Rebel is Benoit Paire, The Virtuose is Richard Gasquet…
Players will compete in front of no crowd, but in a special court in front of digital screens, HD cameras and unconventional speakers. Made for livestreaming
Coaches are part of the game. They have a buzzer to activate their coaching right. Players also answer fans’ questions during the game.
What are some of those experimental rules (sometimes complex)?
Matches are played in 4 quarters of 10 minutes. That means one game is no more than one hour.
Two serves each, cumulative points. Only 15 seconds between each point.
Between each quarter, 2 minutes break
The player with the most points at the end of the match of each quarter wins the quarter
If the clock runs out in the middle of a point, the point goes on. If the quarter ends in a tie, a deciding point is played
If a player wins the first three quarters, the fourth quarter is still played for set average purposes
If both players are tied at two quarters apiece, the fifth quarter is player in a sudden death format
Players have 4 cards they can use giving them special rights (for example 3 services instead of 2)… will be fun to watch and complex for the referees
Serena Williams suggested part of the rules, and it seems the players love it. No doubt this format will be evolutionary. It is all about delivering a highly electric and engaging competition, fun and serious at the same time since there is prize money as well. At the end, it is made for new generations to love tennis. Time will tell us, but it is up to a good start this Saturday.