What is the Ultimate Tennis Showdown?

Ultimate Tennis Showdown is a tennis event whose inaugural edition was played during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament was conceived by veteran coach Patrick Mouratoglou and businessman Alexei Popyrin in 2020.

The tournament is known for its unique scoring system. Instead of sets, players compete against each other in four timed quarters. Each quarter lasts for 8 minutes. At the end of each quarter, players are given 3-minutes to switch sides. At the end of 8-minutes, the player who is leading the scoreboard has to win one additional point to seal the quarter. This means that if a player is leading 12-10, they only have to get to 13-10 to win the quarter. During this time, the opponent can certainly try to mount a comeback. Should the opponent level the quarter to 12-12, then a deciding point is played.

The first player to win three quarters wins the match. If both players win two quarters apiece, then a sudden death quarter is played. In the sudden death, after the first point, each point is a match point. This is because the winner of the sudden death is decided based on which player is the first to win two consecutive points.
Players are given 15 seconds between two points to commence the next point. If this rule is violated, then the player will be given a warning. Subsequent violation of this rule results in a point penalty. Players alternate their serves after two serves each.

Unlike professional tennis, UTS allows only one serve to the players. Additionally, a “No-let” rule is applicable. This means that if the serve lands right after brushing or clipping the net, it is considered a legal serve.

Players also have bonus cards which they can use tactically during the match. These bonus cards are:

  • Steal serve: Player serves four points consecutively
  • -1 serve: The opponent gets to serve only once
  • 4x consecutive serve points: Player will serve four times consecutively
  • Win in 3 shot max: The opponent has to win the next point in less than three shots
  • Winners count x3: If the player wins the next point with a winner, they get three points

UTS also has rules for coaching. The player and the coach are connected with each other through a microphone. Coaching is allowed at all times except during a point. The player and the coach should strictly communicate in English. If any other language is used, it would result in a point penalty. The conversation between the coach and player is audible on broadcast as well.

All UTS events showcase eight players that are divided into two groups of four each. The top two players from each group further advance for the knockout rounds.
Starting in 2023, three regular events of UTS will be played throughout the year. Based on the performance of the players in these events, UTS will rank them based on a set criteria. The top players will feature in a Grand Finale event of the season.

UTS has openly said that the selection of the players is purely based on their performance and charisma. The participating players are also given a pseudonym by which they are represented on the scoreboard.  For example, Alex de Minaur is called The Demon, Stefanos Tsitsipas is called The Greek God, and so on.
UTS is not a part of the professional ATP Tour. Thus, players do not get any ranking points in their professional statistics.

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