“I’ve Had a Mental Injury For a Year”: Benoit Paire Reflects on 1st Round Victory at Hamburg Open 2021

Published 07/13/2021, 3:18 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 31, 2021 France’s Benoit Paire reacts during his first round match against Norway’s Casper Ruud REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


French International star, Benoit Paire, was recently seen participating at the Hamburg European Open. Benoit, who hasn’t been playing his best lately, was hoping to better his statistics going into this tournament. Paire faced Ricardas Berankis in his first round, and the two locked horns, taking the game to 6-6 in the first set.

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However, just as the excitement began to kick in, a disappointed Richard was forced to retire from the game. Following an injury, the Lithuanian went down in pain and had to pull out of the tournament. Since he had been looking good himself, Benoit too had to settle for disappointment.

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The French star has struggled with form all throughout the season that has affected his health mentally as well. “I’m disappointed for him, he’s a great guy, I hope it’s not too serious. But, honestly, I’m also happy for myself. I don’t win a lot of games anymore, I’ve had a mental injury for a year,” he said.

(Quotes have been translated)

Paire at the 2021 Wimbledon Championship

Benoit is known for his antics on the court. He is vocal about his feelings, makes his voice heard, and is unapologetically himself at all times. However, this dynamic personality has often landed him amidst controversy. At the 2021 Wimbledon Championship, Benoit once again made headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. He was handed a code violation for unsportsmanlike behavior in his first game.

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – June 28, 2021 France’s Benoit Paire in action during his first round match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

He got a code for unsporting conduct and lack of effort at 5-0 and 30-0 in the third set. A least interested Benoit also approached the umpire after the same. “Call the physio, I have pain,” he said.

However, Umpire Mohamed Lahyani was having none of it, and he responded “You cannot play like this. You have to show more sportsmanship.” 

The third set ended in less than 20 minutes. Agitated fans also heckled Paire from the crowd, asking him not to waste their time.

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Benoit Paire – The controversy king

This wasn’t the first time that Benoit had found himself in trouble. The French player was asked to return home for poor behavior and for breaching rules at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Following this, the French Tennis Federation has also banned him from the Tokyo Olympics team on the grounds of ‘extremely poor behavior’.

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Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 10, 2021 Benoit Paire of France takes a photograph of a ball mark on the clay after losing his first round match against Italy’s Stefano Travaglia REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

However, a rather relaxed Benoit seems unbothered by the negativity surrounding him. When asked about his reaction to being heckled on the court by fans, he said, “I do not care about the people. I play for me and that is it. I do not play for people.”

In a sport where fans are the heart and soul of the game, is it fair for Benoit to not value them enough? While some of the greats looked forward to playing in front of packed stands once again, it is safe to say Benoit might have preferred the closed doors. However, is that against the spirit of the game or just another personal choice that anyone is entitled to have?

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Watch this story: Wimbledon Championships 2021: Roger Federer’s Emotional Farewell

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Melroy Fernandes

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