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The Rise Of Benoit Paire

A look at the rise of Benoit Paire through the ATP Tour rankings and the 25 season that propelled him to such a loft ranking.

Sunday, on a small indoor court in Mouilleron-le-Captif, France, Benoit Paire fought off match point in the challenger final against young French compatriot Lucas Pouille and won the trophy. The all-French final was a small ember of joy for the French tennis faithful on what had been a particularly somber day in wake of the devastating and cruel terrorist attacks in Paris.  Although a popular challenger during the fall European indoor challenger season,  Mouilleron-le-Captif is not typically a tourney you find a top 20 player in the world; however, with Paire’s entrance and play, the tourney was awarded such quality this year. With the emotional victory, Paire climbed to an all time rankings high of 19th in the world, small consolation for the terrible heartbreak his country is facing.


Paire entered this late season challenger tournament ranked 20th in the world, at that time an all time high for the Frenchman who much has been expected throughout his career.  The Frenchman has ridden a resurgent and productive 2015 season to a place with the elite ATP Tour players. This did not go unnoticed by his peers on tour as Paire was voted “Comeback Player of the Year” when the tour awards were announced this week.

Up until this season, the 26 year old was often more so known for his social media presence (with hundreds of fans constantly commenting and flocking to his Instagram which painted him as one of the top players favorite hitting partners and dinner dates) instead of his results on tour. Paire has long been good friends with the upper players, forming a fairly successful doubles friendship with Stan Wawrinka. Their friendship was often a hot topic for the most ravenous of tennis fans on Twitter.

But often lost in this conversation was the fact that Paire has a big game and has fought off injury to find his place in the world of ATP tennis. Gifted with a sneaky quick  serve, the world number 19 has used this weapon to win 73% of his first serve points this season. This ability to serve himself out of tough situations was a prime reason he reached the finals of both the Japan Open and Baastad this year. Paire also showed better will and nerves in the big moments (just as he showed Sunday in the tourney final) as he made important deep runs at Roland Garros and the US Open for crucial big points towards his climb up the rankings.

Paire’s climb up the ranking has been very notable since he started the 2015 season ranked 126 and playing lower level future’s events in France. Having played on all three levels of ATP tour this year, Paire found himself playing all levels of players and found success at each level as well. He holds wins over the likes of Kei Nishikori (twice), Gregor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Gael Monfils, and Giles Simon this season. The wins over Monfils and Simon may predict a signaling in the changing of the guard of the French tennis elite. France has long followed, cheered, and been befuddled by the uneven careers of their Three (sometimes four) Musketeers (Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils, and later Simon) who all showed such great promise, but often struggled to win the big matches on the biggest stage. Paire was long trumpted as a probably successor to this group, and 2015 has seen him lay claim to that charge.

2016 looks to be a promising year for the Paire. With many of the men in the top 20 having had questionable years of form and with many points for them to defend, Paire could find himself in a strong position to climb even higher in the rankings and finish the year in the top 15 or 10. The ability to cross these important career thresholds takes not only skill, but a competitive gumption which Paire seems to be finding with age. This sort of gumption and willingness to fight off match points in ATP tour matches, and the gumption to be himself completely on and off the court, assures himself of continuing to be a player the French fans will love to watch in 2016.

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