Action heated up at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, as players jogged for positions in the standings ahead of next week’s knockout portion of the competition.
Stefanos Tsitsipas began the day on top of the leaderboard, and stayed there, after rallying from two quarters down for a second occasion—this time against fellow Top 10 player Matteo Berrettini. With his comeback win, Tsitsipas became the first player to clinch a semifinal berth in the cumulative competition, while Richard Gasquet and David Goffin secured key victories to improve their rankings.
Stefanos Tsitsipas d. Matteo Berrettini, 11-13, 13-14, 14-13, 13-10, 2-0
Having won a close opener, Berrettini fell behind 12-9 as a result of double faulting. But he managed to beat Tsitsipas in playing his card first, making the most of stealing the Greek’s serve to tie the second quarter. Tsitsipas couldn’t convert his counts three points play, and Berrettini capitalized, threading the needle with a forehand pass to force a deciding point—one he would claim to extend his advantage.
Needing to “free” his mind, Tsitsipas was tactical with his cards in the third quarter. A huge ace enabled him to nab three points on a single shot for the first time and a run of five points was just enough to hang on. Berrettini didn’t hit his spots on serve in the fourth, and Tsitsipas took advantage to level the match, bringing up Saturday’s second sudden death. There was little spectacle, as the Italian made two unforced errors to see the clash slip through his fingers.
David Goffin d. Corentin Moutet, 19-11, 12-14, 14-10, 20-7
After three double faults, Goffin’s serve came through went it counted most. Playing his card rewarding three points for a winner, the Belgian scored six points after hitting back to back aces to blow open an 18-10 lead in the opening quarter. Moutet won the rally of the day in quarter two, which proved to be pivotal in equalizing the match. Goffin though, would reclaim the lead, and Moutet soon exploded in the final quarter, breaking two racquets in the span of three points.
Richard Gasquet d. Alexei Popyrin, 14-11, 15-12, 23-9, 14-21
With a 13-5 advantage in the third quarter, Gasquet went for the kill. The 15-time ATP titlist unleashed consecutive aces with his winner counts three card to pile it on against the young Aussie, and as a result, can now eye making a major move in the upper echelon of the standings by improving to 5-2.
On having an 11-year-old “coaching addition” in his box, Patrick Mouratoglou Academy student Ksenia Efremova, Gasquet said, “I played with her yesterday. She’s better and better, so it was the best practice for me. I was tired after one hour playing with her. I remember when I was that age, playing here, watching many great players, so it’s nice for me to play with a younger person.”
Dustin Brown d. Feliciano Lopez, 15-11, 11-19, 19-11, 17-13
After splitting the first two quarters, Brown could do no wrong in quarter three, unloading big serves and blistering forehands, to claim two quarters in a UTS match for the first time in six attempts. He made excellent use of his cards, winner count three and steal a serve, in stringing together seven points in a row from 6-8 down in the fourth, and would ultimately close out his first victory.
Elliot Benchetrit d. Benoit Paire, 19-11, 13-14, 13-10, 10-16, 3-2.
This match had it all: highs, lows, momentum changes, underarm serves, water bottle dumps, giggling, frustration, humor, you name it. In the end, 21-year-old Benchetrit proved to have the stronger hand when all the cards were on the line, prevailing in sudden death to maintain an outside shot at advancing to the knockout portion of the competition.