Ahead of the UTS season kicking off this year, we look back at the best of the 2023 season. With three tournaments being played, and three different winners, who came out on top in different aspects of the game?
We break down seven of the most season-defining statistics from the 2023 UTS season and outline who was the best.
Who served the best in 2023?
One name stands above all when it comes to serving in UTS last season.
It’s the man who also won a title on debut, and made the Final Four of his next tournament: Andrey “Rublo” Rublev. The Russian maestro has served with incredible accuracy across both events he’s contested–landing serves 94 per cent of the time at UTS Frankfurt and 97 per cent of the time at the UTS Grand Final in London.
With an overall accuracy of 95 per cent across 2023, seeing Rublo miss a serve was a rarity.
Taylor “The Hotshot” Fritz and Yibing “The Great Wall” Wu also get honourable mentions. While each just played one event, their serve accuracy of 93 per cent had them right behind Rublo. The average UTS player served with 89 per cent accuracy last season.
Who returned the best?
While the serve was undoubtedly a crucial element of success across the UTS season in 2023, players that returned well also found themselves going deep in tournaments.
This was almost 10 per cent higher than the average UTS player last year, who won 48.58 per cent of return points. An honourable mention must go to Diego “El Peque” Schwartzman, however, who was barely a whisker behind Draper in the leaderboard at 56.0 per cent.
Who was the best at sudden death in 2023?
Sure, serve and return are the staple of tennis. But in UTS, excelling at sudden death is everything. With multiple matches per tournament being decided by sudden death, those who know how to win these tight moments had a huge advantage.
In 2023, two players were equally successful in sudden death: The Great Wall, and The Hotshot. Both won three of the four sudden deaths that they played.
However, we have to give this one to The Great Wall. Why? Because one of his sudden death wins was against The Hotshot, and it came in the UTS Los Angeles final. His ability to win this sudden death meant he deprived Fritz of the title, and claimed it for himself instead.
Who was the most clutch?
One of the most exciting twists of UTS in 2023 was the introduction of a bonus card. This card could be played at any stage in a quarter, and meant that the next point counted for three points, for whoever played the card.
Successfully converting a bonus card–or defending one–could mean huge swings on the scoreboard.
True to his name, Casper “The Ice Man” Ruud was the coolest under bonus card pressure, succeeding 63 per cent of the time. A little over half the time (51 per cent), The Norwegian converted his own bonus card, but an incredible 75 per cent of the time he defused an opponent’s card.
Ruud was particularly potent at the UTS Grand Final, saving 83 per cent of the bonus cards he faced in London.
Who stole the most quarters?
There’s nothing quite like the drama of a player coming back from behind on quarter point. In UTS, players don’t simply win quarters when time is up. They have to win one final quarter point–and sometimes, it doesn’t go to plan.
On three separate occasions in 2023, Rublo stole quarters. This means that when it came to quarter point, he was behind. Somehow, he clawed his way back, winning multiple consecutive points and claiming the quarter.
By far his most important steal came at UTS Frankfurt, where he stole the first quarter of the Grand Final against Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov. The Russian then went on to win the match three quarters to one.
What was the match of the year?
Speaking of which, the 2023 season served up plenty of brilliant matches, but none were quite as intense as the UTS Frankfurt Grand Final.
In the clash between G-Unit and Rublo, the ball was in play a whopping 26 per cent of the time. Average UTS matches see the ball in play 20 per cent of the time, representing a significant hike. This is because it took an average of 7.5 seconds to win each point, as the pair played some titanic rallies.
The quarters were tight too. Three out of the four went to a deciding point, with an average of only two points difference across all quarters.
What was the biggest drama of the 2023 UTS season?
You mean, something more dramatic than Gael “La Monf” Monfils launching himself into the crowd at UTS Los Angeles? Or Benoit “The Rebel” Paire climbing the umpire’s chair?
Absolutely. In terms of tennis played, by far the most dramatic match took place between El Peque and The Rebel. Any match that goes to sudden death is dramatic, but this one took the cake for sure.
Round robin – Group A –
The duo played an enormous nine-point sudden death to decide their round robin match at UTS London in December. Schwartzman came out on top 5-4, but not before the London crowd were thoroughly entertained.