Patrick Mouratoglou, the current coach of Serena Williams, has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic as he launched his innovative UTS (Ultimate Tennis Showdown) tournament in his academy in Nice, France. The tournament which has attracted top players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem. The purpose of this tournament was to address some of the problems he sees in modern-day tennis.
The Double Bagel podcast interviewed Mouratoglou for his thoughts on UTS and other issues. Listen to the full podcast here.
Patrick Mouratoglou’s UTS features a tiebreak-like scoring format and is different compared to traditional tennis scoring, and is played in four 10-minute quarters.
“I think now, especially the last 10 years, the way people consume sports have dramatically changed with social media, Netflix, and video games. It has completely changed people’s habits. I think the format of sports, the way we know them, are in trouble. Those formats, almost all of them, are long, they are quite slow. And people are not used to that anymore,” says the Frenchman.
The purpose of this tournament, Mouratoglou says, was to bring younger tennis fans to the sport, as currently the average age of tennis fans is around 61 years old.
“If you look a bit further, 10 or 20 years in the future, I am not sure this is going to be still working because the younger generation don’t consume videos like that. So the idea of UTS was to propose a different tennis. With the goal to able to bring fans into tennis–people who are not watching tennis, and younger people.”
Problems Of Modern Day Tennis
Mouratoglou says due to the “political correctness” of tennis, it has not allowed players to fully express themselves in the media, which consequently has made the sport looking unattractive to watch for potential new tennis fans.
“I think we have great personalities in tennis. I more think they don’t dare expressing themselves as tennis is the most politically correct sport along with golf. And that is not great is because I think people want to get to know the players.”
“I think it’s important for players to understand that they have to showcase their personalities… I think when you show who you are, people will like you. And some of us will dislike you. And that’s fine. You can’t please everybody, and if you try to please everybody- you please nobody. To think all the players, are nice, perfect, are loving each other. Thats not the truth.”
Serena’s Preparation for the US Open
With the US Open only a few weeks away, Mouratoglou will be preparing Serena Williams for another attempt of to capture her historic 24th Grand Slam title.
“The preparation for this US Open is the weirdest in history. But I think all the players are in the same boat. It’s been challenging for everyone in the same way.”
When asked about how close Serena is to capturing #24, and whether it is a physical or mental hurdle that is holding her back.
“When you start to lose a few times in the same situation, the mental aspect comes in. But the positive thing about it is that she has already reached four Grand Slam finals, which means she is not far. But the last step is always the most important–especially when you make one step for history. So this is the challenge now.”
The illustrious coaching career of Patrick Mouratoglou started in 1999 when he started coaching former World No.8 Marcos Baghdatis where he won the 2003 Australian Open Junior Boys title and reached the Australian Open final in 2006.
Since then, Mouratoglou has coached other world class tennis players such as Grigor Dimitrov, Laura Robson, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Serena Williams, and many others. It would be fair to say, if any coach knew what separates good players and great players, it would be Patrick.
“If you ask me what are the three things that define a champion. I would say, ambition, competitiveness–the ability to be a great competitor–and probably athleticism.
“What separates good players from great players is their personality. If you look at the top 100, all the players are great players. But just a few are champions. What makes a difference is an extra thing they have. It’s how much they believe in themselves, how much they want it, how bad they want it.”
Listen to the full podcast on “The Double Bagel”.
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