Benoit Paire has always had a way of stirring the pot. But his recent comments about tennis not being his, ‘priority’ have attracted a lot of attention.
The Frenchman has won only one of his seven matches this year and admitted after his latest loss that he just wanted to collect the pay cheque and move on to the next tournament, next bubble.
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“I come (for the tournaments), I make some money, and (then) I go to the next tournament: I do my job,” the 31-year-old said after losing 3-6, 1-6 to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round of the Mexico Open on Wednesday.
“There, if you win an ATP 250, you only get $30,000. I took a check of $10,000 each time by losing straight. Why tear yourself away like a crazy to win barely more?”
I don’t how they can stop 🛑 him from playing when his ranking gets him in the tournament, but could be fined for some performances and Twitter https://t.co/sqFEYgB4zc
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) March 20, 2021
Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal, who is a massive part of the Spaniard’s success and never-say-die attitude, wasn’t too impressed by Paire’s comments.
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“All this does tennis poorly. These statements are not correct,” Spanish newspaper quoted ‘Uncle Toni’ as saying.
“He would have done better to keep that to himself because it tarnishes the image of tennis.
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“It does not do tennis or him any favours. Effort is given (at) little value. He is tired of the current situation (and it would be) better if he would have kept it to himself.”
Paire has been struggling for form ever since the tour resumed after a six-month hiatus due to the pandemic. He admitted that the absence of crowds was affecting his motivation and has launched into several tirades against the sport.
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The ATP has not yet reacted to the Frenchman’s admission of lack of effort.
“I don’t how they can stop him from playing when his ranking gets him in the tournament, but could be fined for some performances and Twitter,” celebrated tennis coach and TV presenter Brad Gilbert tweeted.
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Due to the revised ranking system, Paire has remained at 31 in the rankings despite his poor performances. It is good enough to get him into most tournaments, including ATP 250 events, which have a 32-man field.
But Kim Clijsters, who is looking to make a comeback to the game, believes the problem may run deeper than what it seems.
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“Maybe also a sign that he needs help,” the former Grand Slam champion said.
Former World No 1 Andy Roddick replied to her tweet: “Certainly sounds that way. Probably starts w removing himself from the situation more permanently right now. In tennis there are rightfully set of minimum expectations regarding effort if one chooses to take the court. I certainly wish him the best in finding his solution.
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“Precedent has been set for fining people tanking so they can definitely fine him. His own words above are an admission of an intentional lack of effort. That’s generally how tanking is defined.”
A lot of players have also complained that the dip in prize money is affecting their motivation.
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“I say maybe bullsh*t under the influence of impulsiveness,” Paire wrote on his social media on Saturday.
“But when I see that the Miami Masters 1000 will be played without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic, Gaël and Stan, there is a problem at the moment on the circuit.”