Ultimate Tennis Showdown Aims To Fill Void Caused By Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown, the brainchild of pro tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou, announced its launch over the weekend. The UTS, a five-week independent series without spectators beginning May 16, hopes to fill a void during which the novel coronavirus pandemic has effectively shut down professional tennis until at least July 13 and left both the ATP and WTA Tours as well as the ITF World Tennis Tours grounded.

Mouratoglou, the longtime coach of Serena Williams, will stage the UTS matches at his Mouratoglou Academy located near Nice in the heart of the French Riviera. The series will begin with 10th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium against 20-year-old Alexei Popyrin of Australia, who trains at Mouratoglou Academy. A full lineup of players will be announced at a later date.

The UTS was co-founded by Mouratoglou and Popyrin’s father, businessman Alex Popyrin, to provide “a long-term financial solution for both top and especially lower-ranked players,” said Mouratoglou in a weekend statement. The Greek-French coach said of the series that it “defines itself as a player-centric league, and therefore features a system focusing on the redistribution of income among the players. This system could be particularly beneficial for lower-ranked players.”

A total of 50 matches – 10 per weekend spread over May and June – will take place without benefit of live spectators and “in full compliance with local physical distancing requirements to ensure the safety of players, coaches and a limited number of UTS staff onsite,” according to UTS organizers.

French president Emmanuel Macron last week said that France would begin lifting portions of its strict lockdown restrictions beginning May 11 provided the number of coronavirus infections continues to decline. France’s total number of Covid-19 deaths is third-highest in Europe.