A video featuring Frenchman Benoit Paire went viral sometime back. It shows the 27-year-old hit a drop shot with such fierce underspin that the ball rebounds after bouncing on the other side.
Benoit Paire is a gifted player. He moves the ball with such ease that it makes the efforts of most of his opponents look like a forced rendition of tennis. That is, when he is in full flow. Otherwise, the world No 47 likes to smash his racquet on the court, commit random double faults on set points and try outlandish shots which seem rather incongruous.
Benoit Paire was nowhere near his best against India’s Davis Cup singles mainstay Yuki Bhambri. He moaned and resorted to enough on-court antics but still put together a 6-3, 6-4 verdict at the SDAT Stadium on Thursday.
Yuki can take heart from the fact that he has come back after a long injury lay off and has begun the year on a solid note. After winning a Futures event in Hong Kong, the 24-year-old was in Chennai to continue the good run.
Yuki, a former Junior Australian Open champion, qualified after two rounds and then whipped compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-1, 6-1 in the first round to earn the right to take on Paire. That first round probably settled the debate about who would be turning out to play singles with Saketh Myneni when India take on New Zealand in their Davis Cup tie in Pune next month. But the Indian does not yet have the arsenal to tame a player like Paire. With Yuki’s departure, Indian hopes in singles extinguished.
It’s not that he didn’t have chances. He created some with Paire’s bizarre unforced errors. Three break point opportunities in the first set, two at 3-5 down, and four in the second. “I failed to capitalise on the chances but Paire was able to. I think the scoreline reflects that,” said Yuki.
Having recently included boxing in his training regime, unlike tennis professionals, Paire showed how his serve helps in tricky situations. Towering at 6’5”, he has the potential to possess one of the most fearsome serves on Tour. “He was able to bail himself out because he served well,” said Yuki.
It’s just the first week and Yuki is hoping to stay healthy for the whole year. Once ranked 88 (in 2015), the current world No 474 has a long road ahead, with the Melbourne qualifiers the next pit stop.