Ultimate Tennis Showdown Day 1 Predictions Including Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Richard Gasquet

Stefanos Tsitsipas in action at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown

Although the tennis season was abruptly curtailed in March by the sudden spread of the coronavirus pandemic with no return date yet in sight, the world’s stars have managed to return to action in a number of exhibition events around the world. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is Patrick Mouratoglou’s Ultimate Tennis Showdown and we here at LWOT will be offering previews and predictions throughout the tournament. But who will taste victory on day one?

Format

First, however, a look at the format. Mouratoglou has long expressed concerns about the viability of tennis going forward, arguing that the game needs to make significant changes to its scoring system. His Ultimate Tennis Showdown has given him the chance to experiment with some of these changes. Gone are the traditional sets and games, to be replaced by four ten-minute quarters, introducing a timed element to tennis for the first time.

During each quarter, players will serve twice alternately, with the quarter won by whoever is ahead when the ten minutes has elapsed. In the event of a tie after ten minutes, a deciding point will be played. It should also be noted that if the clock runs out in the middle of a point, the rally will be completed. In the event of a player taking an unassailable lead by winning the first three quarters, the fourth will still be played to determine set averages.

The changes are certainly dramatic, with the Ultimate Tennis Showdown trying out something totally different. How that will impact the tennis remains to be seen, although there will inevitably be an incentive to win points quickly and with the matches to be played on an outdoor hard court, players most at home on the asphalt will surely benefit.

Ultimate Tennis Showdown Day One Predictions

Lucas Pouille vs Elliot Benchetrit

Head-to-head: first meeting

Elliot Benchetrit entered the draw as a late replacement for Dominic Thiem for the first week of the event, with the Austrian currently competing on the Adria Tour in Belgrade. Lucas Pouille, meanwhile, has enjoyed some excellent weeks in his career, reaching the last eight at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016 and then the last four at the Australian Open in 2019. However, he has struggled for consistency. In 2019, he struggled to back up his run in Melbourne and now finds himself ranked outside the top 50.

That said, Pouille should, in theory, be able to impose himself in his first match at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. Benchetrit is ranked 208th in the world and he has never been ranked inside the world’s top 190. So far in his career, he has played just five matches on the main tour, picking up only one win. Benchetrit may benefit from the new format levelling the playing field somewhat, but it would still be a surprise to see him get the better of the vastly more experienced Pouille.

Prediction: Pouille 3-1 Benchetrit
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Dustin Brown vs Benoit Paire

Head-to-head: Brown 2-1 Paire

Dustin Brown may lead the head-to-head, but do not put too much stock in their previous encounters. Brown’s wins came in 2011 and 2012 on clay, whilst Paire’s lone victory was via retirement after just one game. But this should be an entertaining clash, one Mouratoglou will surely be hoping draws in an audience. Both men are shot-makers able to hit winners from anywhere on the court and both are at their best when playing attacking, all-court tennis.

Brown may have a slight advantage having played in a test match on Friday night. Although he lost out to Alexei Popyrin in sudden death, that will have given him familiarity with the format and the opportunity to try out some tactics. And with this the showpiece of the first day session, there may well be some inclination to ensure a close and competitive match. Ultimately, however, Paire is the higher ranked man for a reason and that should give him the decisive edge.

Prediction: Paire 2-2 Brown – Paire to win in sudden death
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David Goffin vs Matteo Berrettini

Head-to-head: Goffin 1-0 Berrettini

The first player to commit to the Ultimate Tennis Showdown was David Goffin, which rather suggests that the Belgian was excited by the concept. He should be eager to play his best as a result, and may well have given thought to how best to take advantage of the timed element. Equally, however, he is not one of the ATP Tour’s most naturally aggressive players, relying instead on his court coverage and the accuracy of his groundstrokes.

Matteo Berrettini, in contrast, typically looks to finish points off quickly, relying on his big first serve to win cheap points, which could give him a real advantage in this format. He should also be feeling confident, having enjoyed a sterling 2019 season, which saw him reach the US Open semifinals and qualify for the ATP Finals in London. But he is not the most consistent of players and may need some time to hit his stride. Expect the Belgian to take advantage.

Prediction: Goffin 3-1 Berrettini
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Feliciano Lopez vs Alexei Popyrin

Head-to-head: first meeting

The veteran Feliciano Lopez wasn’t amongst the initial ten-man field for the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. It is not yet clear whether he is playing as a temporary replacement or as a permanent addition to the tournament. Regardless, his match against the Australian young gun Popyrin should make for an interesting clash of the big-servers. Particularly because Popyrin, whose father was an instrumental part of the development of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, will surely be keen to put in some good performances to show that he deserves his place.

Lopez certainly has the advantage in terms of experience, having played 937 ATP matches compared with Popyrin’s 41 and won seven titles to the Australian’s none. But, as mentioned above, Popyrin will have some experience with the format, having played a test match against Brown on Friday. That familiarity with the format could give him a decisive edge in a contest that otherwise looks likely to be fairly evenly matched.

Prediction: Popyrin 3-1 Lopez
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Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Richard Gasquet

Head-to-head: Tsitsipas 1-1 Gasquet

This should be quite some match to end the first day’s play at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. Both men will surely relish the occasion, with neither man a stranger to the big stage. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who after an indifferent start to the season had begun to find some form before the season was suspended, will likely look to dictate with his big serve and forehand. But Gasquet, though no longer the player he once was, remains a fine mover with plenty of power of his own off the ground.

He also still has one of the best single handers in the men’s game and will likely feel confident about his chances in any backhand-to-backhand exchanges. Expect a close contest as a result. That is a prospect made more likely by the fact that this is the first headline match of the first week of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, which may lead to both men feeling a subconscious desire to keep the match competitive. But Tsitsipas greater power, particularly from the line, should give him the decisive edge.

Prediction: Tsitsipas 2-2 Gasquet – Tsitsipas to win in sudden death

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