At Roland-Garros, end of ordeal for Benoît Paire

Benoît Paire, during his second round against Argentinian Federico Coria, at Roland-Garros, Wednesday, September 30.

The defeat of Benoît Paire in the second round of Roland Garros against Argentinian Federico Coria made at least three happy. His opponent. The little Ravioli, the chocolate labrador French, who will be able to find his master after six weeks of absence. And Benoît Paire himself. “I’m going to go home, I’m very happy. Usually when I lose to Roland I’m devastated. I just want to go to a restaurant even if it closes at 10 pm. This season, it looks like nothing ”, he said a few minutes after his elimination (7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1).

On the Simonne-Mathieu court, nestled in the garden of the Auteuil greenhouses, there were almost as many spectators on Wednesday, September 30 – around 300, a rather decent attendance in view of the general public authorized (750 per day) in this edition. chagrin – so many characters in the head of Avignon. For two and a half hours, they were treated to a soliloquy by the Frenchman, who poured out his entire repertoire of onomatopoeias.

“No, don’t force it with that forehand, noooooooon. “

“Since when do I miss this, since when ?? Huh ??? “

“Yeah, great your backhand, yeah yeah yeah! “

In a normal day, the French, seeded no 23 in the tournament, arguably would have made short work of his opponent, 99e world player. With all due respect and landlord he is, Guillermo’s brother (Roland’s finalist in 2004) does not have half of the Frenchman’s technical palette. Evidenced by the number of winning shots: 67 for the Avignon – a slew of amortizations, including a retro jewel, and a salvo of forehand rifle shots – against only 18 for Coria. The problem is that Paire feasted as much as he watered (79 unforced errors).

“If it’s played out under normal conditions, I don’t think I’m losing this game. Physically I was not ready ”, summed up the loser of the day. And for good reason. Since the end of August, Benoît Paire’s life has looked like a bad dream, parasitized by a series of imbroglios linked to Covid-19, which he contracted this summer. A month and a half that he lives according to the PCR tests carried out before each tournament, with sometimes contradictory results.

“Impossible to play tennis like that”

The Frenchman’s ordeal began on the eve of the US Open. A positive test on his arrival in New York earned him first a quarantine in his hotel room, as well as twelve of his contact cases (seven players – including Gasquet and Mladenovic – and their entourage).

Negative once back in France, Paire continued with tournaments in Rome and then Hamburg. In Germany, he is again declared positive, but he receives the green light from the organizers to line up, considering that he is no longer contagious despite the traces of the infection. Mentally washed up, he throws in the towel in the middle of his first match: “I think it’s impossible to play tennis like that. You don’t sleep, every time waiting for test results ”, Pair sighed then.

The tall (1.96 m) bearded man arrived with fear in his stomach at Roland Garros, under the threat of being disqualified even before having been able to play in the event of a new “borderline” nasopharyngeal test. But to his relief, it is negative this time. To advance in the knowledge of the virus, science could undoubtedly have been able to look into his case: “Positive in New York twice, then six times negative in New York, negative on return to Paris, negative in Rome three times, first two tests positive in Hamburg, the third negative and finally negative in Paris”, he listed Sunday after his first round against South Korean Soonwoo Kwon.

Despite this inaugural victory, Paire said he was nervously drained. “I try to do my best on the court. After that, with everything that has happened to me, it’s not easy. Everyone will say that I am making excuses, but when we do ten days in a hotel room… I was still locked up for five days in Hamburg so it is a completely truncated preparation. I am physically and mentally tired. “

“If I win so much the better, and if I lose, I’ll go home, I’ll see my dog ​​and my family, he continued. And above all, I will prepare well next year. I want to do something good, to get back into it. I’ll have to find solutions, change something to, why not, do better than my best ranking [18e en 2016, il est actuellement 26e]. “

Hoping that the 2021 season finds a semblance of normality.


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