Tennis meets Entertainment: The Ultimative Tennis Showdown in Frankfurt
Showtime for tennis! UTS served up the perfect fusion of sport and fun in Frankfurt! With top players not only engaging in electrifying matches that kept spectators on the edge of their seats but also participating in dancing battles and entertaining on-court interviews, the event lived up to its promise of delivering ‘tennis like never before’. UTS has proven to be a tennis spectacle that’s capturing the hearts of fans and players alike…
G-UNIT Grigor Dimitrov
THE REBEL Benoit Paire
THE ICE MAN Casper Ruud
THE THUNDER Jan-Lennard Struff
RUBLO Andrey Rublev
EL PEQUE Diego Schwartz- man
THE ROCKET Chris Eubanks
LA MONF Gaël Monfils
No warm-up: Players enter the court and the match starts straight away. +++ Each match consists of four quarters of 8 minutes + the time of a hypothetical ‘sudden death’. A match is played to the best of 4 quarters – the first player to win 3 quarters wins the match. If a player wins the first 3 quarters (3-0), the match is over. +++15-second shot clock between two points. If the server takes more than 15 seconds, he receives a warning the first time, then a point penalty for each subsequent violation. +++ Each player can decide to use a bonus card once per quarter, during the regular time only. The card with the ‘Next point counts x3’ effect applies only for the player who uses the card. And only for the very next point. +++ If both players are tied at 2 quarters all, the fifth quarter is played in a ‘sudden death’ format in which the two players serve just one point before alternating serves. The first player to win two consecutive points wins the match.
“It was fun, it was crazy, it was weird, playing with different rules. It was exciting and a challenge for me. Very intense, but a very good experience.”
Insights from UTS Founder Patrick Mouratoglou
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown has a completely new concept. What was your basic idea?
We started with the following idea: If we were to invent tennis today, knowing how people consume, what would it look like? The answer was that it would be short and very fast because the entertainment options are now so vast that people switch to something new quickly. Tennis should be dynamic and authentic so that players have more fun. Furthermore, the audience can completely unfold because it is genuinely part of the show.
“There’s no ATP event here (in Frankfurt) anymore, but historically, Germany has been a significant country for tennis. So, we thought we should come to Germany. But we also needed the right stadium, and the Süwag Energie Arena is truly fantastic.”
what are your first impressions of Frankfurt?
I really like the city. We’ve been going out to eat every evening so far. We went to Ivory, delicious food, a very nice location. The day before, we went to an Asian fusion restaurant, which was also very good. I like that everything here is within walking distance.
If you could choose a player, past or present, to participate in the UTS, who would it be, and why?
Probably Serena (Williams). She has a unique way on the court, expressing herself a lot. With her, you can tell where she is emotionally at every moment.
What would Serena’s UTS nickname be?
The Legend. And for the men, I would have liked John McEnroe or Marat Safin to participate. If I had to choose, it would probably be McEnroe.
UTS Grooves to a different beat than regular tourmanents. Instead of ‘Quiet Please’, cool tunes keep the audience and players grooving during the matches. MC Markus Flöth and his DJ team had the perfect music for every situation, bringing a great atmosphere to the arena. Additionally, just like in boxing, each player had their own signature song when entering the arena. Check out our top three hits that perfectly match the nicknames of the players on the right.
1. “Ruby” by The Kaiser Chiefs Signature song of ‘Rublo’ (Andrey Rublev)
2. “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie Signature song of ‘The Rebel’ (Bernoit Paire)
3. “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons Signature song of ‘The Thunder’ (Jan-Lennard Struff)
Serving up fun and Fan Engagement
One day before the official tournament kickoff, press members, invited guests, and VIP ticketholders had the opportunity to get an up-close and unique glimpse of the tournament’s stars in a relaxed, fun-filled celebration of tennis. During the All Star Skills Challenge, guests were invited to step onto the court and witness their favorite players competing in four mini-games to earn extra points for the UTS ranking. Guided by UTS founder Patrick Mouratoglou, also known as ‘The Coach’, the players engaged in spirited and enjoyable contests. Local favorite Jan-Lennard Struff exhibited remarkable precision in the ‘Crush the Can’ game, where players aimed to strike as many ball cans as possible within a minute, securing additional UTS points for themselves. In a different scenario, Andrey Rublev displayed his prowess in a thrilling volley duel. Engaging in an equally gripping and entertaining exchange with ‘La Monf’ Gael Monfils during the ‘Bounce your Box’ game, ‘Rublo’ emerged victorious, further bolstering his point tally. The relaxed, playful atmosphere proved contagious, showcasing not only the players’ remarkable skills but also their genuine love for the sport. It reinforced the idea that tennis is more than just intense competition; it’s about camaraderie and the unique connection between players and fans.
He knows how to make the audience laugh and cheer: Gael Monfils, also known as ‘La Monf’, was undoubtedly one of the most captivating personalities at the UTS in Frankfurt. From showcasing his breakdancing skills on the court to engaging with the audience and even handing the ball to a ballgirl to defend ‘The Rocket’ Chris Eubanks’ match point, Monfils left an indelible mark.
“I really like to put on a show… People can appreciate the heart we try to bring to the court.”
The Ice Man
Casper Ruud, the former world number two and multiple Grand Slam finalist, is competing as ‘The Ice Man’. In this interview the Norwegian discusses his personal connection to the city of Frankfurt, the reasons for his UTS participation, and his desire for a new shot…
What are your impressions of Frankfurt so far? I’ve been to Frankfurt many times, but mostly just at the airport. Now I’m seeing the city for the first time, and I’m really enjoying it. We’re staying in a nice hotel in the city center, and we’ve already had some excellent meals. I had a typical German schnitzel, which was very delicious (laughs).
How does UTS differ from ATP tournaments? There are, of course, fewer players here, and we all know each other well, so we have a lot of fun together. There’s also a group stage, which we don’t normally play except for the finals. I had to get used to hearing the fans, music, and all the sounds during the game much more clearly; that’s certainly a difference. But now I can adjust to it for the next match.
Why did you decide to participate in UTS at this particular time? The opportunity arose due to Reilly’s (Opelka) injury-related withdrawal. It’s something completely new and dynamic, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. The organization is also very professional; the team has been doing a great job since day one and treating us incredibly warmly. It’s interesting to try out a new format of play. Tennis is a sport that hasn’t changed many rules over the years.
What do you think of the time rule, where the game is divided into four quarters? This format makes the game much more intense for us, and it’s the only tennis competition I know that is time-based. Normally, it’s one to six sets and a tiebreak, and that can take forever. As I said, I really enjoy this format.
If you could adopt a shot from any player on the tour, which one would it be? Probably John Isner’s serve; it would give me a lot of confidence.
Getting to know the coaches! UTS provides fans with a closer look at the coach-player relationships.The player’s coach was stationed on the player’s bench – directly on-court and players had the advantage of receiving coaching freely at any point during their matches. Among the coach-trainer pairs, one of the most endearing duos was undoubtedly Benoit Paire and his coach, Xavier Moraux. The duo that looks like brothers always had a fun time on the court…
“I like to have good advice from my coach, and to talk during a match. That’s a good thing during UTS – you can talk to your coach, to the commentators as well. That helps me.”
⠀No More Silence⠀
Player Insights and On-Court Chatter
During every changeover, each player was equipped with a headset or microphone, allowing them to communicate with their coach, interact with their fans, and answer questions from the interviewers, Jenny Drummond and Max Whittle. Of course, players could also engage in conversations with each other during the matches. Here, we’ve compiled a selection of the most amusing on-court interviews…
REASONS TO WATCH THE ULTIMATE TENNIS SHOWDOWN
1 Unfiltered fun:UTS is not just about the game; it’s also about entertainment. It’s a rare opportunity to see top players smiling, engaging with fans, and having a great time while competing at a high level. This relaxed format adds an extra layer of entertainment, making the matches a must-watch for tennis enthusiasts and casual sports fans alike.
2 Dynamic duels:UTS introduces a fresh and dynamic format to professional tennis. With its quarter-based scoring system, time limits, and innovative rules, it keeps matches fast-paced and exciting. The clock is ticking, and every point counts, ensuring that each match is a rollercoaster ride of excitement and unpredictability.
3 Player access: UTS provides an unprecedented level of access to players. With on-court coaching and live player interviews during changeovers the audience gets a more personal look at the athletes. Plus, after the matches, the players take their time for autographs and photos, giving fans an opportunity for an up-close and personal experience.
⠀The Match That Stole the Show⠀
5000 spectators gathered in the sold-out Süwag Energie Arena to witness one of the most spectacular matches in the young history of UTS. ‘Rublo’ and ‘La Monf’ brought the special ‘UTS spirit’ to the heart of Frankfurt during their night session on Saturday. In a highly entertaining match featuring spectacular shots – and equally spectacular dance moves by ‘La Monf’ – both players thrilled the electrified audience with a perfect blend of showmanship and breathtaking points. Monfils even earned the Star Rally Award for the tournament’s best shot, a winner he dubbed the ‘Snap’ shot. In the end, Rublev emerged victorious. After the match, both players generously took their time to fulfill the numerous selfie and autograph requests from fans young and old. ‘It’s always great when you have a high level of play combined with a lot of fun; that’s fantastic, and this combination was perfect yesterday,’ Monfils explained, still beaming a day after the match.
“The thing that I’m excited the most about during UTS is the energy I’ve seen in all the UTS events. The fans get really involved, it’s very fun to play in a different format.”
The winner of UTS Frankfurt is Andrey Rublev. ‘Rublo’ emerged victorious in the final of the revolutionary tennis competition against Grigor ‘G-Unit’ Dimitrov, who had arrived only on Friday and replaced the last-minute withdrawal, Daniil ‘The Chessmaster’ Medvedev. In a nerve-wracking and at times highly dramatic final, the player nominally highest ranked in the ATP rankings among the participants managed to prevail and hoist the winner’s trophy, designed in the form of lightning. But the most heartwarming moment was the players’ burgeoning bromance, which first revealed itself this spring at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters and now reignites in the interview during the changeover: ‘I think if I were a girl, I would be completely in love with Grigor. Even being a man, I’m in love with Grigor,’ Rublev stated. Nevertheless, he showed no mercy and sealed the match point ‘in style’ with a smashing shot at the end of a spectacular rally that ‘G-Unit’ couldn’t return into the court. ‘It was really tough, it was really intense. We had a lot of long rallies. But I’m happy that we showed great tennis, and in the end, people enjoyed it, and that’s the most important thing,’ said the champion.