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No. 3 Dominic Thiem enters Ultimate Tennis Showdown

Dominic Thiem of Austria will join Patrick Mouratoglou's Ultimate Tennis Showdown tournament, which starts Saturday in France. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
Dominic Thiem of Austria will join Patrick Mouratoglou's Ultimate Tennis Showdown tournament, which starts Saturday in France. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

June 12 (UPI) -- World No. 3 Dominic Thiem has joined the Ultimate Tennis Showdown tournament field.

Tournament organizer Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams' coach, announced Thiem's tournament entrance on Thursday. The 10-man tournament starts Saturday at the Mouratoglou Academy in Biot, France.

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The tournament will be played amid coronavirus-related suspensions for the ATP Tour and WTA Tour. The tennis leagues have been on hiatus since March. The seasons are suspended until at least August.

The round-robin style event will be played for five consecutive weekends, with no spectators on-site due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

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Mouratoglou's event will also include No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 8 Matteo Berrettini, No. 10 David Goffin, No. 22 Benoit Paire and No. 50 Richard Gasquet. Two additional players from the Top-100 and three players from the Top-200 also will compete. Thiem will not join the field until the tournament's second weekend.

The event will be streamed to subscribers on UTSLive.TV. The tournament will featured pumped-in crowd noise and interviews with players through headsets. Competitors will be encouraged to express their emotions in ways forbidden by ATP Tour rules, which include racket tossing and trash talking.

"The origin of UTS came from a simple observation: tennis today needs to reinvent itself," Mouratoglou said. "The average age of the tennis fan is now 61 years and continues to increase. The world around us has changed and the way young people consume sport and tennis has not changed in a decade. We live on the basis of fans from the '70s and '80s but do not attract young people at all."

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Mouratoglou attempted to form a women's tournament but could not complete the task because of logistical challenges and space constraints.

Several other tournaments have been organized amid the tennis hiatus. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic organized the Adria Tour, which also starts Saturday. The Adria Tour will feature Thiem, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 33 Borna Coric and No. 37 Marin Cilic. Djokovic's tournament ends July 5 and takes place in the Balkan region.

A handful of women's tennis stars also will take the court for the Credit One Bank Invitational from June 23 to 28 at LTP Daniel Island in Charleston, S.C. No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 6 Bianca Andreescu, No. 13 Madison Keys, No. 37 Sloane Stephens, No. 58 Victoria Azarenka, No. 90 Monica Puig and multiple Grand Slam doubles champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands will play in that tournament.

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Men's world No. 2 Rafael Nadal has not announced plans to play in a tournament amid the hiatus. No. 4 Roger Federer announced Wednesday that he will not return to the court until 2021 after a knee injury setback.

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