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Young Future|Super Star Sinner Gets Assist From Paire, Goes On To Upset Tsitsipas at Rome ATP Tennis

By Ricky Dimon

Meltdowns on the tennis court are spontaneous combustions. You never know when they are going to happen or when some unforeseen incident will set a player off.

In the case of Benoit Paire at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia earlier this week, however, it was a premeditated strike. You knew something was going to happen in his first-round match. After all, Paire was coming off a tumultuous stay in the New York City bubble. The Frenchman retired from his opening match at the Cincinnati Masters while trailing Borna Coric 6-1, 1-0 and then he was forced out of the U.S. Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

Paire returned to Europe following the necessary quarantine but did not have much time to prepare on clay for the Rome Masters. Thus he asked tournament organizers to let him start on Tuesday, but they declined and put his first-round date with Jannik Sinner on the Monday schedule. The 31-year-old proceeded to go on a Twitter tirade, venting his frustrations over having to play on Monday.

Unsurprisingly, his mood did not improve on the court. Paire complained to the chair umpire about basically everything, struck water bottles with his racket, threw them as well, served when Sinner was not ready, and blatantly tanked the last game of the match. All in all, he handed Sinner a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Benoit Paire of France hits a water bottle on the court.

“It was a good training session,” Paire said, sarcastically. “I had one hour of autonomy, so I’m quite happy I was able to last one hour and four minutes. It’s good for the future. I’m happy with what I’ve done. I lost 6-2, 6-1, but in Cincinnati I stopped playing at 6-0, 1-0 so it’s pretty positive.”

It was very positive for Sinner, who was certainly well-rested following that virtual bye when he took the court against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday. The 19-year-old Italian proceeded to pull off a 6-1, 6-7(9), 6-2 upset. Sinner failed to close it out in straights despite leading 6-1, 5-4 and serving for the match but he recovered in the third.

Jannik Sinner of Italy celebrates after winning his second round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Obviously he’s a very experienced guy already on the ATP Tour,” the world No 81 said of Tsitsipas. “I played last year against him in Rome; this year the same. I just tried to play my game; move better than I did in the first round, which I did today.”

“In the beginning I was feeling great,” Sinner reflected. “I knew for him it was the first match on clay, so it’s never easy. When I was serving for the match I made one double-fault, and then in the tiebreak it can go both ways. I tried to start strong in the third set, which I did.”
Ricky contributes to
10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.