French tennis star Lucas Pouille admits at first it was a bit odd to play an event like the Ultimate Tennis Showdown but he found it exciting after he got adjusted to it. On Sunday, world No. 58 Pouille started his Ultimate Tennis Showdown campaign with a tight loss suffered to Feliciano Lopez.
The Spaniard imposed over the Frenchman in a sudden death as he won 17-13 13-12 9-13 11-12 2-0. The Ultimate Tennis Showdown — created by coach Patrick Mouratoglou — features a set of specific rules and different to traditional game.
Some of the basics of the format are that points are played nonstop and there are four quarters of 10 minutes — if players are tied after the four quarters then sudden death is played out. On-court coaching is allowed with time outs and players could get interview mid-match.
Each players serves twice, there’s just 15 seconds between points and there are six UTS cards that allow a player to make some interesting calls. “It’s a different format with a different rhythm. At first, it was a bit odd to use the cards (wild cards, allowing you to influence certain points) at the right time.
I took a little time to adapt, then I got to come back and the fifth (set), it was heads or tails. With the fifteen seconds between the points, there is a big intensity, it goes on and on. That’s what makes it addictive. There’s always something going on.
This is the purpose of this format. It’s very fun. I had a lot of fun. First, because I went back to court and second, the format is really great. You can come back at any time with the cards and that makes the game super funny and attractive, Pouille told L’Equipe.
Lucas Pouille insists he gives his best at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown
“I don’t take it as an exhibition, it’s a competition. Otherwise, I wouldn’t work hard to win the fourth (set, 12-11) and I wouldn’t try to win.
In an exhibition, we do more shows and spectacular points. Here, we really play to win. Afterwards, the tension is necessarily different from the circuit or from a Grand Slam where there are the ATP points, the classification…
But there is tension. Yes, this is not an ATP tournament, there is not the same personal expectation but it has been months since we have played in competition, we are motivated and we want to win,” Lucas Pouille said.