In a season of setbacks, Benoit Paire celebrated his biggest loss today: He lost his losing streak.
Paire defeated Munich champion Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-5 to win his Mutua Madrid Open opener and snap a seven-match losing streak.
Cheered on by some French fans who blared horns of support and waved towels in celebration, Paire pumped 14 aces and saved eight of 11 break points posting his first victory since he defeated Nicolas Jarry in Cordoba last February.
Paire was so moved by the fans’ response he pulled out his smart phone and took video of the entire experience he later called “one of the best memories of my career.”
The bearded Frenchman said freedom from loss all began in his mind.
“The most important for me was the head. When mentally I’m ready to play and focus on the tennis, it’s totally different,” Paire said. “When you play in front of people, the thing change a lot. That’s why today it was like a Davis Cup for me in Madrid, so I really enjoy to play with this crowd.
“That’s the only thing I gonna remember, because my game was not my best match, but for sure it was an incredible moment. I have a lot of support from the French crowd. For me, for the mental, when you are in Madrid and you play like with a lot of French like this, honestly for me it was one of the best memories of my career, because all the French, they know I’m not in my best form, I’m not playing my best tennis. Mentally it’s not easy for me at this time. But when the people are coming and watch the match, they support me and that’s what I like.”
Paire improved to 2-10 on the season but won’t have too much time to savor his win as he takes on Monte-Carlo champion and Barcelona finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas next.
The 35th-ranked Paire, who was booted from the French Olympic team last month for bad behavior, said he’s refreshed. After snapping his losing streak, Paire’s prepared to launch a winning streak.
“And against Stefanos, I played him in Acapulco. I was not able to play like normal in Acapulco,” Paire said. “I was not mentally ready.
“So it will be a good match. I feel much better now after holidays. Mentally I’m very fresh, so it will be a tough match, for sure, but I think I have some chances to win this match.”