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“I have no word for it” – Benoit Paire reveals struggles with his mind after Monte-Carlo loss

Paire’s first-round loss at the ATP Monte-Carlo Masters was his seventh consecutive opening-round loss at ATP level in 2022

France's Benoit Paire reacts during his first-round match against Italy's Lorenzo Musetti at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters France’s Benoit Paire reacts during his first-round match against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Draw Order of play

France’s Benoit Paire is known for his electric shot-making ability on the tennis court. At the same time, the talented Frenchman has faced a lot of criticism for his on-court behaviour and his perceived lack of effort during matches, especially in recent years.

Following his latest early exit, this time to 20-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 in the first round of the ATP Monte-Carlo Masters, Paire gave an honest insight into his mindset, saying that he felt under a lot of pressure in matches, although he was hitting the ball well in practice.

“Yesterday I had a beautiful practice session, and today on the court I feel heavy, I can’t move. This has been happening since the beginning of the year. As soon as I have a match point or a break point, I feel a lot of pressure. I shouldn’t have that pressure, because my career is behind me. I don’t know why I have that pressure,” Paire said on Tuesday.

“It’s difficult because when I play a match, I don’t feel good with myself. I don’t understand why, because I practice well, I play well when I train, but matches are difficult for me.”

Paire’s loss took his 2022 record at the ATP Tour level to 2-10, with both his wins coming back in January at the Australian Open. Since then, he has lost his opening match in seven consecutive ATP level events, though he did interrupt that losing streak with a win at the ATP Challenger in Phoenix, Arizona last month.

When asked to further expand on the tension he feels, the former world No 18, now ranked 61st in the world, said he finds it difficult to close the important points in a match.

“I have no word for it. I just see what is happening for me to win a set point. I need the opponent to make a mistake, otherwise I can’t win. All those latest matches I played I was up and almost going to win them and I ended up losing them. I remember in South America, it was the same. Sometimes I’m up 5-4 in the last set and I lose it, et cetera, et cetera. 6-2, 5-2, and I lose. Miami, the same thing. I have many losses. But when I practice, my level is quite high. I feel confident during practice. But in a match, if I’m able to break back, my next serve game I make three double faults. In the third set here, it all depended on my serve. I made two double faults for a start and I lost the match.”

“I start asking myself questions about my forehand, about my backhand. I didn’t ask myself those questions before”: Benoit Paire

Paire added that he has begun doubting his game during key moments in matches, something which is a new occurrence for him.

“It’s the same when I had my driving test or when people go to an exam at university, they feel anxious. Well, instead of thinking the court is great, there is a good crowd, it’s beautiful weather, instead of thinking that, I start asking myself questions about my forehand, about my backhand. I didn’t ask myself those questions before. It’s a pity, because I feel physically good and my tennis is good. But when I’m on the court, I feel heavy, I feel tired. This is what is tough.”

Despite articulating his feelings so well, Benoit Paire said he did not plan to see a sports psychologist and believes that things will improve if he wins a couple of matches.

“I don’t know what to do. I tried to have a coach. I had one for Indian Wells and Miami. It was Edouard’s coach. But what happens is in my mind. I don’t want to go and see a psychologist. I’m not interested. It’s going to come back. I won only two matches this year. I just need to win one or two matches and things will be good again. Maybe I should go on a challenger to get my confidence back, because I know I play well.”

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