“G-Unit” Dimitrov defeats “The Rebel” Paire in dramatic sudden death at UTS Frankfurt

Benoit “The Rebel” Paire has yet again blown a lead, failing to capitalise on four match points against Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov on day two of UTS Frankfurt

Grigor Dimitrov, UTS Frankfurt 2023 Grigor Dimitrov, UTS Frankfurt 2023 – © UTS

If there’s one thing Benoit “The Rebel” Paire is good at, it’s losing UTS matches by sudden death. And that’s exactly what the Frenchman did in his opening match on day two of UTS Frankfurt against Grigor “G-Unit” Dimitrov on Saturday.

After dominating the first two quarters against his Bulgarian opponent, the Rebel gave himself no less than four match points, any one of which would have seen the 34-year-old advance to the Final Four of UTS Frankfurt.

Instead, Paire failed to capitalise, playing out quite possibly the most dramatic sudden death of the UTS season so far, falling devastatingly short against G-Unit to lose the match 17-11, 16-11, 14-15, 15-19, 3-4.

Paire opens day two of UTS Frankfurt with blistering start against Dimitrov

In typical Benoit Paire fashion, the Frenchman began strongly against his long-time friend Grigor Dimitrov.

Ahead of the match, The Rebel had delivered a cold message to G-Unit, when asked if he was a fan of hip-hop: “I’m not, that’s why I want to destroy him.”

While Dimitrov had responded in kind, revealing that his plan was to target Paire’s forehand, it was The Rebel who had the better execution across the first two quarters, racing out to a 10-1 lead in the opener. Paire’s forehand was firing and his depth was excellent, while Dimitrov was spraying balls wide, long and into the net, causing his coach to cry out: “This is not going to plan, this is not going to plan!” and “I can play better than this!”

After losing two quarters in one-sided fashion, a calm G-Unit declared to the UTS commentators: “[I’ve] never seen Benoit so pumped. Great touch, never missed one serve. Not much to say, he’s just the man right now.

“I’m going to try something, let’s see if it works.”

The G-Unit comeback begins

Heading into the third quarter, it seemed as though this clash was going to continue being one-way traffic, with The Rebel grabbing an early 9-5 lead.

“Five more minutes, five more minutes!” Paire’s coach encouraged him, unbeknown to him that there was much more of this match to go.

A momentary lapse in focus by Paire, who perhaps became a little relaxed playing against his friend, saw the Bulgarian draw level at 9-9. Whatever Dimitrov was trying, it was working. The pair went back and forth for the remaining minutes of the quarter, defending each other’s cards and forcing a deciding point at 14-14.

 G-Unit won the corresponding point, before the umpire gave Paire another shot at moving into the Final Four by calling a let on quarter point. Take two saw the Bulgarian again prevail, sending the clash into a fourth quarter.

“I live for this. Heart rate is like 220, you have only one serve, beautiful way to live life,” declared Dimitrov, who would go on to win the fourth quarter 19-15 with a well-played three-point card late in the final seconds.

Dimitrov wins most dramatic UTS sudden death of 2023

You wouldn’t think that four faults in a row would make for good watching, but that’s exactly what it was, as both The Rebel and G-Unit went after their shots at UTS Frankfurt in the event’s first sudden death of the weekend.

After Paire had put his arm around Dimitrov and explained the rules of sudden death to the 32-year-old ahead of the deciding spell, G-Unit rocketed down a powerful first serve that went long, giving Paire match point. The Frenchman returned in kind, with four faults opening up the sudden death, before Dimitrov finally landed one of his booming serves thanks to UTS’s no let rule. The Rebel did brilliantly to return, rushing to the net and forcing an error from G-Unit on the pass.

Facing his fourth match point, Paire could not capitalise, but instead lost his third sudden death of the year with Dimitrov winning on his fourth opportunity 4-3.

“Time is all we need,” G-Unit declared after the match, having taken two and a half quarters to find his range on day two of UTS Frankfurt.

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