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Brawn triumphs over aesthetics as Berrettini beats Gasquet in UTS

Matteo Berrettini recorded his fourth win in five matches at Ultimate Tennis Showdown, downing the in-form Richard Gasquet with an impressive display of power tennis, winning 13-12, 21-11, 12-11, 16-14.

Gasq Gasquet Berrettini

Of all the matches on Day 4 of Ultimate Tennis Showdown, it was the form players who stood on top of the standings as Richard Gasquet took on Matteo Berrettini.

Both players, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, came into the match with commanding 3-1 records from their matches to date in this exciting round-robin format of speed tennis that encourages quickness of play and quickness of thinking.

Unquestionably one of the most important factors in this revolutionary tournament is the use of ‘UTS Cards’ that each player picks two from four pre-match in order to give them a specific advantage, if used correctly!

The UTS cards

  • -1 serve: Opponent gets one serve instead of two for next two points.
  • Winners count x3: Each winner counts triple.
  • Win in 3 shots max: Opponent forced to win the point with 3 shots or less (serve or return + 2 shots).
  • Steal Serve’: player takes away opponent’s opportunity to serve for two consecutive points

Hammer serve seals tightest of opening quarters

It was a change-up from The Hammer, who opted for Steal Serve to go with his Winnerx3, Gasquet sticking exactly the same as his opponent – cards that had served him so well to date.

It was also a classic match-up of styles, the grace and aesthetics of Gasquet against the bludgeoning power of Italian Berrettini. Not quite ‘Beauty v The Beast’, but not too far off! And there was little to separate the pair early on, tied at 6-6 in the opening quarter when The Virtuoso opted to Steal Serve for two more points. It didn’t work out, The Hammer winning both before immediately using his Winnerx3 – again the card going against the player, another variable of this intriguing format.

Matteo Berrettini, UTS 2020

One quickly got the feeling that this was going to be a match of small margins, and at 12-12 with the clock run down, it was Berrettini with the ball on his racket, a huge first serve sealing the deal.

“I had to put the first serve in!”, said the Italian at the first change. “I have to focus on my serve, I know that I can serve good, so I focused with the time that I had, and it went well.”

It was a similarly tight second quarter, the players locked at 5-5 before The Hammer edged ahead, nullifying Gasquet’s Winnerx3 before flashing winners into the corners. Better length from The Virtuoso gave him something of a foothold, but with cards up his sleeve, The Hammer put the pedal to the metal with a Winnerx3 helping seal a dominant quarter 21-11.

“I served well, I returned well, it was a great quarter,” said a delighted Berrettini of his display. “When I find a good rhythm on my serve, I can serve like that. I’m not saying I’m surprised, but I know I can serve like this and these conditions are pretty fast. It’s not over yet, so I have to think about the next quarter.”

Gasquet blows chances to level as Berrettini jumps to top of the table

With matches played over four ten-minute quarters in UTS, there was still hope for Gasquet in the match and still much to play for in the round-robin event, the Frenchman still near the top of the table.

And it was The Virtuoso who got off to the better start in the third, jumping to a 10-6 lead as the clock dipped into the final two minutes. And despite leading by two points and with a Steal Serve in his pocket, Gasquet missed to elementary volleys to lose the quarter at the death.

“I hope he’s going to miss it,” said Berrettini. “It was going on my forehand so for sure, I had more chances. I was in Monaco, took a day and a half off, went to the beach, enjoyed it. So, it’s important to mix things up a bit!”

With The Virtuoso still boasting three wins from his five matches and quarters still counting for much in this round-robin format, there was still all to play for. And it was another nail-biting finish, Berrettini edging 15-14 ahead with seconds remaining before sealing the sealing the deal with an overhead winner.

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