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Benoit Paire regains “desire to play and fight” in tennis, before retiring from ATP Challenger
The Frenchman trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says he stopped drinking and partying in a bid to regain his best level—but he may shut down his season after suffering a back injury.
Published Nov 01, 2022
FLASHBACK: Benoit Paire steps out of shirt after Citi Open loss to Holger Rune
Equal parts mercurial and flashy, Benoit Paire known in tennis circles for his on-court flair as much as his meltdowns. But it turns out his knack for wowing an audience isn’t a talent that’s just limited to tennis.
The Frenchman recently dropped by a training session with Stade Brestois 29, a Ligue 1 team, while in town for the ATP Challenger Tour event in France. His soccer skills impressed the players—especially as he slammed home a couple of absolute screamers that had the pros mobbing Paire in disbelief.
“One hell of a left foot @BenoitPaire!”’ read the caption, in a video shared to social media by the club:
Paire, who was accused of tanking matches multiple times throughout the US Open Series, has been on a positive trend after officially announcing his “new beginning” via social media post two weeks ago. And so far, it’s not just all talk and thirst traps.
He has been competing in a string of Challengers trying to get his ranking up, and seems to be working hard to put his “demons” behind him. Which is good news for fans, as just last month at the ATP Challenger in Lisbon, Paire’s comments had left many worried.
“Before, I liked tennis. I liked these moments of tension, being on the court, but now I feel really unwell. It is a state of mind that I have had for a while,” he admitted during the tournament..
“Right now I dislike tennis, I hate it. Going on the court is something that disgusts me. Every time I step into it, I feel like running away. When I find myself on the court I am assailed by anxiety, I can't manage it.”
Paire has since spent time training at the Rafa Nadal Academy, refocusing after a tumultuous season that has seen him crash out of the ATP’s Top 50 to his current ranking of No. 173.
"Lately, I have taken myself in hand,” he told Ouest France in Brest. “I stopped drinking, I stopped going out, I did a 10-day internship at Nadal's academy with Gabi Urpi, with whom I discussed a lot.
“I finally feel able to get back to my best level."
Unfortunately, his comeback was cut short after having to retire with an injury during his second-round match. Leading 6-5 in the first set against No. 5 seed Jelle Sels, Paire experienced pain in his lower back, which he described as either “a lumbago or a herniated disc”. He will undergo medical exams and may opt to shut down his season and recover depending on the results, he said on social media.
“This week has been very positive and despite the injury I regained the desire to play and fight on a tennis court and that's the most important thing for me,” he added.
Paire is currently entered into three upcoming Challenger events in Japan.