Match Points #25 : Paire and Isner, ATP’s pain in the neck

As if the ATP doesn’t have enough problems to deal with, Benoit Paire and John Isner are creating even more. The Match Points panel talk it over

March 27, 2021

There’s been so much drama in tennis in recent months, and two of the latest incidents were up for discussion by Tennis Majors’ expert panel. Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli joined journalists Ben Rothenberg and Simon Cambers to talk about John Isner’s rants and Benoit Paire’s bad behaviour in the latest episode of Match Points, hosted as always by Josh Cohen.

‘Disappointing and damaging’

Paire’s assertions that he is sick of playing tennis in empty stadiums and fed up with living in a bubble got little sympathy from the panel – particularly after his tantrum on court in Buenos Aires.

“I’m going from disappointment to even more disappointment with Benoit,” says his countrywoman Bartoli. “It’s not easy to go from bubble to bubble…it’s just that I don’t understand that much meltdown on the court and I don’t understand the lack of effort. I don’t relate to what he’s doing – I can’t relate. I’m not questioning Benoit’s talent…what is very frustrating is the image he’s giving of the game, it’s damaging.”

Benoît Paire, Roland-Garros, 2020

Bartoli suggests that fines need to be levied on people who were not behaving appropriately – and that includes Paire, who she likened to “a sideshow clown”.

“I think Benoit Paire is incredibly unprofessional and embarrassing, and should be ashamed of himself over and over again,” says a critical Rothenberg – suggesting that if the Frenchman was so unhappy on tour, he could opt to stay at home.

‘Tone-deaf’

As for Isner, he took to Twitter last month to call the ATP a “broken system”, and blast the amendments that meant a big cut in prize money. He got similarly short shift for his complaints.

“The ATP has a lot of problems, says Cambers, adding that Isner was “tone-deaf” in complaining about prize money at the moment. “But in a pandemic it’s done pretty well to survive.”

John Isner, Miami 2019

Bartoli points out that sponsorship money would be tough to come by for tournaments this year with limited in-person attendance meaning the events were less attractive for brands.

“These are events that are hurting. It’s not impossible that a big event could go bankrupt with the stresses on them right now. It’s a miracle that any tournaments are happening,” concludes Rothenberg.

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