Match Points excerpt: What should the ATP Tour do about Benoit Paire?
Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and journalists Ben Rothenberg and Simon Cambers discuss what the ATP Tour should do about Benoit Paire, who has repeatedly been giving less than his best effort on court in 2021.
In the latest episode of Match Points, the Tennis Majors panel debated the ongoing case of Benoit Paire’s bad on-court behavior. Paire is just 1-8 this season, with a win only against Nicolas Jarry in Cordoba (Jarry was returning from an 11-month doping suspension). The Frenchman has openly admitted that he is sick of playing tennis in empty stadiums and fed up with living in bubbles. Recent transgressions include giving little effort on court and a tantrum in Buenos Aires.
It’s safe to say that Paire is not getting any sympathy from the Tennis Majors panelists. Former Wimbledon champion Martin Bartoli and journalists Simon Cambers and Ben Rothenberg all think that it’s time for the ATP Tour to hand down a punishment.
“I think there will be a suspension of some sort”
Bartoli understandably looks at it from a player’s point of view. Paire’s antics, she claims, will have a negative impact on future generations.
“He’s damaging the game the way he behaves. When you have the youth and the young generation looking at that and they think it’s okay to behave like this, this is where my problem starts. So I think the ATP should have a sense of responsibility saying that we can’t display tennis that way, and therefore they should take some actions.”
Cambers agrees that the ATP needs to something about it.
“He’s clearly struggling with everything. He’s towards the end of his career; he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But I think they’ve got to be strong, because if you don’t do anything when somebody just behaves like he has done in recent times on the tour, the tour is made to look a little bit of a mockery. They’ve got to be strong about it, so I think there will be a suspension of some sort.”
“Just ban him”
Rothenberg went even farther than Bartoli and Cambers, calling out the ATP for past failures when it comes to punishing — or not punishing — players who either on-court or off-court issues. He did note that the tour has suspended Kyrgios at times in the past, but wonders why it has not done the same for Paire.
“That has been something that’s been incredibly pathetic from the ATP; they’ve done such a terrible job of policing any of this. They let this get this far with Benoit — obviously a lot of discipline issues that they don’t really crack down on ever, either off court or on court. Whether it’s (Alexander) Zverev or (Nikoloz) Basilashvili…those are different things, but they also remain silent on that. They are letting Benoit do whatever he wants and not suspending him or banning him. And they banned Kyrgios, who’s a similar level person — although Kyrgios has a lot more results and a lot more big wins and a lot more charisma and a lot more talent than Benoit, and a lot more money and endorsements and other things, too.
“[Benoit] is being a jerk; he’s being ridiculous the whole time. Why would you want to keep him on tour when you can just ban him? Just let him go. He doesn’t want to be there; you don’t want him there. Just ban him.”