Berrettini overcomes Tsitsipas in thrilling UTS final

  • Matt Trollope

Italy's Matteo Berrettini won the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) in France, overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas in a dramatic final.

In a battle between two top-10 players, Berrettini smacked a final forehand winner to claim a 3-2 victory.

Berrettini and Tsitsipas had split the match’s four quarters – UTS showdowns feature four 10-minute segments rather than traditional sets – and won the sudden death segment by being the first player to win two consecutive points. 

“I think a couple of members of family died from a heart attack, for sure,” Berrettini laughed about the tense finale.

Staged at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in the south of France, the UTS featured health protocols designed to ensure safe competition during the coronavirus pandemic.

Matches were played without spectators, while players underwent coronavirus testing upon arriving at the academy and maintained physical distancing through measures such as racquet taps instead of handshakes. 

The UTS began one month ago, with players contesting two matches each weekend to determine the Final Four that would compete in the semifinals.

“I think a couple of members of family died from a heart attack, for sure."
Matteo Berrettini discusses his tense victory in the UTS final.

Tsitsipas, the world No.6, was the form player of the competition, winning eight of his nine matches – including one over eighth-ranked Berrettini last weekend.

Tsitsipas breezed past Belgium’s David Goffin to reach the final, yet Berrettini was forced to come through a sudden death scenario against Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the other semifinal.

Berrettini won the first two quarters against Tsitsipas and came close to an unassailable 3-0 lead when he led the third quarter 4-0.

Tsitsipas recovered, and soon scores were locked at 12-12; the Greek found a delightful cross-court backhand passing shot winner with less than 20 seconds remaining, and snared the third quarter when Berrettini double-faulted on the final point.

Tsitsipas then controlled the fourth quarter to send the match to a sudden-death scenario.

Yet it was Berrettini who rose to the occasion.

“I won two crazy matches (against Gasquet and Tsitsipas), two sudden death. I’m really exhausted, I’m really tired, but I really enjoyed this format,” he said.