The name of Benoit Pair It has been in all the newspapers over the last few months. Not for the right reasons, precisely. We always knew about his side of ‘bad boy’, of his tremendous ability to disconnect from games and go through the court as if the matter does not come or go. Sometimes, however, we preferred to stay with his virtuosity, his natural knack for plotting dreamy setbacks, his ability to surprise and lift spectators off their seats. It hurt that in these last four months we only saw the first Paire.
Today, for the first time in a long time, we saw the Benoit engaged. That Benoit who knows that if he makes an unforced error, all he has to do is roll up his sleeves and prepare for the next point. The one who runs all kinds of balls; the one who is aware of his shortcomings, but works to cover them up and show his virtues. It is true that it is only a first round, it is true that his rival was another subject given to irregularity (Basilashvili)… but winning is the only thing that matters. Paire knows it, and this triumph may be more important to him than it seems.
“Being in Madrid with a Davis Cup atmosphere, with all the French supporting me from start to finish, makes me love tennis again. For all this I play this sport, it fills my heart. For me, today is a kind of start to the season “. It was a long time coming: tournaments without an audience drained his tank of motivation until tennis became a mere routine. This had repercussions: the French Tennis Federation prohibited him from playing the Tokyo Olympics, an appointment marked on the tennis players’ calendar.
It seems that Paire found in the Maldives the preseason I needed. There he marched with his girlfriend, both alone in the vast ocean. A perfect place to recharge your batteries and do a mental reset that wants to be the salvation of your tennis. “I feel a lot better now, after my vacation. Mentally I’m pretty fresh. I don’t have to physically kill myself in training to play well. I spent ten days without doing anything physical, I did not do anything, I did not touch the racket. I only did five minutes of paddleboarding with my girlfriend, but she fell and we had to cut. This break was just what I needed. “
It was not, yes, a brilliant match. Maybe that’s why the victory becomes most relevant: on clay, knowing how to suffer and showing hierarchy to close the game. Regaining that feeling of being competitive until the last minute. “What worked very well today was my serve. Only when I served for the game did I get a little nervous, but it worked very well. The most important thing was my head. When I’m mentally ready to play and able to focus on my tennis, everything is totally different. When you play in front of the public, everything changes. That is why I felt that today was a Davis Cup match.
That’s the only thing I’m going to remember about today, because at the tennis level it was not my best match, but I am very clear that I lived an incredible moment, with a lot of support from the French stands. Honestly, it may turn out to be one of the best memories of my career: the French know that I am not in my best shape, that I am not playing my best tennis, that mentally everything is being difficult for me, but still people come. to the stands to see me and support me, and I love that “.
A complicated match against Tsitsipas
The next challenge is really tall. He is the fashionable man of the circuit, the consolidation of a star in the tennis firmament … but this time, Benoit is not afraid of Stefanos Tsitsipas. The reason is clear: now he does arrive prepared to fight. “I faced Stefanos in Acapulco, but I was not able to play a normal match. I was mentally unprepared. Tomorrow I think it will be a good game. I know it’s going to be a very tough game, that’s for sure, but I think I have a chance to win. “.
One last message dedicated to the fans
Yes, to all those who have dedicated themselves to criticizing Paire’s behavior and carelessness. They have done it with arguments, deservedly, but still the French tennis player took the opportunity to defend himself and try to show that he was not even comfortable in his own skin. “I know that many people have criticized me and I really wanted to teach them that they can shut up. For me it is not easy to lose every week, to travel from country to country and always lose, to feel bad … but I know how to play tennis“. It is a kind of warning, a way of showing that the beast wants to wake up. I will not be the one who does not welcome him to the circuit: if from respect he recovers his level, the ATP once again has a valuable asset. Tomorrow it’s time to endorse it before Tsitsipas.