With both Jan-Lennard Struff and Gael Monfils suffering two losses on the opening day, their hopes of making the Final Four are not looking good at UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai.
While 60 percent of matches at UTS Los Angeles went to sudden death, Day 1 of UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai saw no such deciders, despite the clashes being equally as intense. Every player featured at least once, and four made their UTS debuts, making for an action-packed day.
Argentina’s “El Peque” was the big winner, Diego Schwartzman winning both of his matches to go top of group B on day one. Here’s a look at how each of the matches unfolded.
“El Peque” Schwartzman makes fast start against “La Monf” Monfils
To open the Day 1 of UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai, two UTS veterans squared off against each other, with Diego Schwartzman taking on Gael “La Monf” Monfils.
Round robin – Group B – September 15, 2023 4:00 pm
Unfortunately for Monfils, who had recently turned 37 years old, his age was showing, as the Frenchman looked out of sorts in the opening match. Schwartzman made his shots, putting together one of the most dominant performances of the UTS year to win three quarters to love.
“I know that maybe at the beginning it’s a little bit weird with all the new rules,” said El Peque after his victory to the Frankfurt crowd. “But it’s going to be nice the entire weekend, so everyone please enjoy.”
“The Rebel” Paire denies “The Iceman” Ruud a winning debut
Round robin – Group A – September 15, 2023 5:00 pm
The Ice man
While it was Ruud with the nickname “The Iceman”, it seemed Paire was the one with ice in his veins, as the Frenchman won two of the last three quarters of the match in sudden death, including claiming the fourth quarter after being behind 12-9 with 30 seconds to go.
For Ruud, it was an adjustment playing the unique format, with the Norwegian saying after the match, “There are little stress moments when you have three-point card that you can pull out anytime. It’s not always easy to know exactly when to do it.”
Schwartzman returns to make it two from two
With barely a chance to put his feet up after wiping the floor with La Monf earlier in the day, El Peque was back on the court to take on another debutant, this time in the form of fan favourite Andrey “Rublo” Rublev.
Round robin – Group B – September 15, 2023 6:00 pm
Another match, another win for a red-hot El Peque, who never looked troubled by the world No 6.
Schwartzman won the first quarter 14-10, before ensuring he’d at least have a sudden death decider by winning the second as well. Rublo won the first quarter of his career in the third, but fell away in the final quarter 15-8, with El Peque putting one foot in the Final Four already.
“Are you enjoying UTS?” the commentators asked Rublev during the match.
“Not at all,” was Rublev’s response.
One suspects Schwartzman would have had very different answers, with the Argentinian managing to win both of his matches today before sudden death, after losing all of them via sudden death at UTS Los Angeles.
“G-Unit” Dimitrov denies home favourite “The Thunder” Struff victory
It’s been a minute since the UTS Tour was graced with the presence of Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov, with the Bulgarian missing UTS Los Angeles earlier this year.
Round robin – Group A – September 15, 2023 7:30 pm
However, the 32-year-old hit the ground running against home favourite Jan-Lennard “The Thunder” Struff, avoiding an upset which The Thunder is known for.
It was an entertaining clash, with Struff starting well and powering past Dimitrov 17-14 in the opening quarter, before G-Unit pegged the German back, winning the next three in a row.
According the Dimitrov, “the songs were on” and “helped him concentrate”, with the Bulgarian crediting the DJ for his victory post-match.
“The Rocket” makes winning debut, sends Monfils to the brink
In the fifth match of UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai Day 1, popular figure Chris “The Rocket” Eubanks made his debut against veteran Monfils.
Round robin – Group B – September 15, 2023 8:30 pm
The American took some time getting used to the format, with La Monf starting much better than he did against El Peque, claiming the first quarter 19-16—despite a heart in the mouth moment when the Frenchman conceded at 18-12 lead on quarter point.
However, The Rocket found his speed, and won the next three quarters comprehensively, including a steal in the third quarter. Needing to win nine points in a row in order to force a sudden death showdown, La Monf opted for the logical decision: he handed his racquet over to the ball girl at his end, and assumed her job instead.
Unfortunately, she too struggled to nail her serves, and the Frenchman was condemned to his second loss of the day.
Ruud gets on the board, much to the disappointment of Frankfurt fans
Today was a great day for UTS, but not so much for the German fans, as their favourite son Jan-Lennard Struff suffered his second loss of the day in the final match of UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai Day 1.
Round robin – Group A – September 15, 2023 9:30 pm
The Ice man
Squaring off against fellow debutant The Iceman, Struff was unable to make the kind of fast start he achieved against Dimitrov, with the German well off the pace as he lost the first quarter 22-6. The Thunder managed to claw his way back into the clash winning a tight deciding point after the second quarter went to quarter point at 12-12, but ultimately was unable to sustain his level in the face of relentless attack from Ruud.
Several big names now teeter on the brink of elimination at UTS Frankfurt by Builder.ai, and others have their foot in the Final Four. However, with six matches playing out tomorrow, anything can happen with plenty more great UTS action to come over the weekend.