KEY BISCAYNE — Racquet smashes are often good fun for the audience (equivalent to a hockey game fight), but, understandably, it's not so great for the players. Something has to go very wrong to push a competitor to the point of risking a penalty.
And then there's Benoit Paire, who rounded up a collection of major racquet demolitions in his first Miami Open match against Martin Klizan, and won.
"I think it's normal and we have no problem between each other," Paire told Baseline after the match. "So we broke some racquets, but that's life, that's tennis."
With Paire up 5-4, but trailing 30-0, he missed his first serve, setting off a lit fuse.
Since that was his first serve, he had to go and change racquets. The next, and most dramatic, racquet smash came literally right after. Paire sent the ball into the net and went nuclear, forcing the umpire to give him a point deduction, thus giving Klizan the break.
And what would Paire's racquet sponsor think about his day in the office?
"I'm a little bit injured [for] six weeks now and they know how I feel—not a lot of confidence," Paire said. "So OK I broke some racquets, I'm really sorry for that, but the most important thing is to win some matches and to have another match."
Despite the outbursts and multiple medical timeouts (Paire needed a timeout for his ankle after the first set, and later Klizan had his foot looked at), the world No. 39 managed to defeat Klizan in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-3.
Paire successfully broke a five-match losing streak, dating back to Montpellier in early February.
The medical timeouts may also have seemed weird to the spectators, but for the players, it's just another day in the life.
"We know each other... He's a funny guy," Paire said. "So he knows me. He knows if I call a physio, it's not because I want to break the match, it's because I have a pain. And I called the physio after the first set when I won it. For him, I know it's the same."
Paire will face the 21st seed Pablo Cuevas in the second round.
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