I continually hear these criticisms that I only drink alcohol and that there’s no point in me playing tennis… it’s difficult” – Benoit Paire

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After spending a demanding year on the Challenger circuit in 2023, French tennis player Benoit Paire has made a notable comeback on the ATP tour at the Open Sud de France. Paire’s journey over the past year has self-admittedly been a struggle against both on-court opponents and off-court perceptions.

In a recent candid interview with L’Equipe, Paire discussed the hard times he faced last year, particularly the shift from playing in Major tournaments to Challenger events. He was quoted as saying (quotes translated from French):

“It’s also been a long time since I played tournaments of this level. I spent a year playing Challengers, apart from Roland Garros where I had a wild card. It was a complicated year, but I had no choice but to return to the Challengers to gain points and move up in the rankings.”

The Frenchman admitted that although he had his sights set on breaking into the top 100 in 2023, the onset of COVID-19 affected his form and resulted in him finishing the year 115th in the rankings.

“My goal was to finish the year in the top 100 and I did not get there, I finished 115. Since Covid, it’s difficult and I haven’t had very good results.”

Paire also addressed the frequent personal jabs and criticism he gets, admitting that such constant negative chatter is tough to shake off.

“I continually hear these criticisms that I only drink alcohol and that there’s no point in me playing tennis… On a daily basis, it’s difficult.”

He added that he has continued to make an effort to improve and that it’s slowly starting to pay off now that he’s pain-free.

“But I think I made quite an effort and I’m rewarded for it. Plus, I didn’t have any pain in my Achilles tendon, so everything is positive and it will remain a great victory.”

Paire’s passion for tennis remains undiminished even at 34. He shared that he is still fired up for the big leagues, hungry to make his mark where it counts.

“I think I still have the level to play the tournaments I like. Physically, and if the mind follows, I think I can still achieve great results. I don’t want to end up in lower tournaments and have regrets. I have been aware for a long time that I can beat good players. Even last year, I was telling myself that with this quality of tennis on the main circuit, I would have beaten good guys.”


Benoit Paire clinches first ATP tour victory since 2022 against Andy Murray in Montpellier

Benoit Paire in action at UTS grand final London
Benoit Paire in action at UTS grand final London

Benoit Paire achieved a notable victory against former World No. 1 Andy Murray at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, marking his first tour-level win since August 2022.

The Frenchman triumphed in a challenging three-set match that lasted two hours and 43 minutes with scores of 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Paire also demonstrated his strength on serve during the contest, as evidenced by his eight aces.

Paire and Murray’s first round encounter at the 2024 Open Sud de France was their fourth meeting overall, with the Scot leading their head-to-head record 3-1. The duo had previously faced each other in London at the Queen’s Club Championships in 2021, where Murray emerged victorious.

Paire’s last victory at the tour level before this event came at the Citi Open in 2022.

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