Paire Battles Back In Paris
World No. 23 dispatches countryman Monfils in all-French affair
Benoit Paire fought back from a set and a double break down to stun countryman and two-time finalist Gael Monfils on Monday at the BNP Paribas Masters, moving into the second round with a 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 comeback in two hours and three minutes.
The much-anticipated match-up of skilled shotmakers — their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter — saw Monfils take control of the match from the start, breaking his 26-year-old opponent to open the contest. He converted another break in the seventh game and would serve out the set in just 33 minutes, an overhead smash the proverbial exclamation point.
Paire’s 14th backhand error of the evening would hand Monfils another break to kick off the second set. Monfils reeled off 15 straight points to move ahead a double break at 4-0 and appeared to be on his way to an easy straight-sets victory. But Paire would finally find his footing. The World No. 23 brought the set back on serve and forced a tie-break.
"I stayed in the match,” said Paire. “I started to get back little by little. He made some mistakes. I was able to play a couple of good games. I became better. I was more aggressive. I was not as tense as I was before.”
"He surprised me,” said Monfils. “He started playing like he was going to let me get that match. Suddenly, he changed, so I also needed to get back into it myself. He was being aggressive and succeeding well in his attacks, and I had to change my game then.”
With Monfils serving at 4-all in the third, Paire would score his third and final break of the match, and a game later complete the improbable turnaround. He finished with 41 winners to 55 unforced errors.
Next up for Paire will be another all-French match-up, a second-round meeting with No. 14-seed Gilles Simon.