EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Mouratoglou on the storming success of his Ultimate Tennis Showdown

Kevin Palmer
Patrick Mouratoglou - Serena Williams' coach PA

Tennis super-coach Patrick Mouratoglou has told Tennis365 that he wants to make his Ultimate Tennis Showdown competition a fixture on the tennis calendar, after the storming success of the inaugural event in recent weeks.

World No 8 Matteo Berrettini beat world No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling final at Mouratoglou’s stunning academy in Nice on Sunday, with the inventive format and quick-fire games proving to be a huge hit with a youthful audience following the event on Eurosport.

Now Mouratoglou, who has been coach to Serena Williams and a host of the game’s biggest stars in recent years, is hoping Utimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) is the start of a new chapter for tennis, as he suggests there is room in the calendar for events that attract different fans to the game.

“I think it is much more interesting to have two different products in tennis,” Mouratoglou told us in an exclusive interview. “Some of the core tennis fans will watch UTS, but we are attracting a new audience. 

“If you look through the figures of the fans we have reached over the last few weeks, the average age of our fans is 30 and 50 per cent of our fans are not always watching tennis regularly. That is our goal. 

“So if we have two completely different products with two different goals it could work. We could operate at the weekends when qualification is on for tournaments, so maybe the top players could play ahead of the main events. There is a lot of opportunities. 

“We don’t know what the calendar is going to look like in 2021 with the COVID-19 crisis and all the consequences of it, so there are a lot of weeks that are available and a lot of weeks to do things and that is great.

“This is totally what I hoped it would look like and that is good news because you never quite know whether that is what the product is going to look like when you imagine it. The reality is quite often different, but this time it is very close. Not this this is the perfect product, I don’t think it is, we can still improve a lot, but for a start this is a good start.”

UTS saw matches played in 10 minute quarters, with wildcards thrown into the mix that could be used by players who spoke to the TV audience during the match to give them their thoughts on tactics and other aspects of the game. 

Coaches could also get involved from the sidelines, again with the TV viewers given a chance to listen to what they say in their tactical chats, with Mouratoglou suggesting the format could be even more gripping for a TV audience with a big crowd present.

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“Imagine this event with a crowd… wow, I can’t wait,” he added. “There was a lot of tension out there. This is real tennis and they want to win, but they can have fun at the same time. You could see the players relaxing at the changeover and having some fun, but then they want to win really badly when the points are played. That is great. 

“The goal of UTS is to offer an immersive format. Tennis is a format where we are far from the players and we see them from the outside. UTS, you are close to the action physically as the camera is there, the sound gets you into their effort and we get into the players’ mind thanks to the commentators and their conversations. We get close to the coaching as we can hear their discussion with the players at the changeover, so this is a very immersive experience and very different.”

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