Ultimate Tennis Showdown coming to London with Nick Kyrgios on the comeback trail

Kevin Palmer
Ultimate Tennis Showdown coming to London
Ultimate Tennis Showdown coming to London

Tennis fans in London are set for an end-of-year treat after it was confirmed the Ultimate Tennis Showdown is coming to the ExCeL Arena in December.

The brainchild of tennis coaching guru Patrick Mouratoglou, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the game, has proved to be a big hit with tennis fans since it was launched during the Covid lockdown.

Now Mouratoglou is taking his franchise to London for the first time, with Andrey Rublev, Gael Monfils and Casper Ruud all confirmed to be taking part in London.

There are suggestions that additional big names could be added ahead of the event from December 15 – 17, with British stars certain to be in the mix for a wild card.

Another UTS event will be staged in Seoul at the start of December and intriguingly, Aussie maverick Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to take part. This would be his first appearance on court since June amid what has been a year desiccated by injuries.

Nick Kyrgios (Netflix)
Nick Kyrgios (Netflix)

Mouratoglou spoke to Tennis365 about UTS from his base in Nice, as he confirmed he hopes it can bring tennis to a new audience.

“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.

“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’ minds 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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* Each match consists of four quarters of 8 minutes + the time of a hypothetical Sudden Death.

* The timer stops during the 3-minute changeover at the end of each quarter.

* The 1st player to win 3 QTS wins the match. If both players are tied at 2 QTs apiece, the 5th QT is played in a ‘“Sudden Death’” format.

* The “Sudden Death” is a dramatic cliffhanger where the first player to win two consecutive points wins the match. Every point from the second point onwards is a match point during the Sudden Death.

* There is no warm-up: Players enter the court and the match starts straight away

* During the quarter, Players serve two points each: player A serves for two points, then player B serves for two points, then player A serves for two points again, etc.

* As a major change designed to reduce down time and create more rallies, UTS players are allowed one-serve only per point : missing the serve results in losing the point.

* Finally, the “No-Let” rule during serve will be in effect.