I've been adopting quite a few players from the satellite circuit as Favourites Beyond The Baseline lately. Challenger tennis is fun times. And sometimes these dudes go and play on the big stages. And sometimes, even when they lose, they are a little bit excellent.
I am talking, of course, about Benoit Paire. He ate a bagel in the first set against Ljubicic in Rotterdam today, and then he went down in the second pretty tamely too. It happens. Paire is young and Ljubicic is a class player.
But two points from defeat, he played a shot that made me love him forever.
It wasn't a sensible shot. He didn't even win the point. But come on, how am I not going to love who plays a dropshot from between his legs jumping a metre in the air while in a dead sprint?
It's just silly. And that's why I love it. I like a bit of silly in my tennis sometimes. And while I wouldn't have liked the shot if he didn't make it, he did make it. Sure, he got beaten the very next shot, but maybe if he hadn't fallen over...
Benoit Paire, you are going to have a little bit of love from me forever now. I love a man who can play a tweener.
Benoit Paire first came to my attention when he got the reciprocal wildcard from the French Federation into the Australian Open. I was angry because a) Mahut should have got it and b) I'd never heard of Paire, which meant Mahut should have got it even more. And while I still think Mahut deserved a goddamn wildcard, Paire was not a bad choice. He is young and talented and full of promise and he played a dropshot tweener from a metre in the air on the full stretch.
Benoit, there'll always be a line or two for you here beyond the baseline. You might not get Mahut-level coverage, but there's always going to be a little space for you. Because I think you're awesome.
Oh, and I saw him play in the first round of the Australian Open and I was all, like, impressed and stuff. You can go back and read the blog entry if you like. It is totally true. It isn't just because he played a stupid trick shot and I'm easily impressed by showy low percentage tennis.
...though yeah, that is a big part of it.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago