It was a battle of the Frenchman as Benoit Paire faced Gilles Simon in the second round of the BNP Paribas Paris Masters. Simon was given a bye into the second round while Paire overcame countryman Gael Monfils in three. It was the 14 seed though who would get the victory in this all-French affair 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 and will face Novak Djokovic next.
Super Simon Captures Final Six Points To Take Opening Set Off Erratic Paire
It was the 14th-seeded Simon who opened up serving but was broken right away, however, he broke right back on the sixth try after finishing off a long rally with a cross-court forehand winner. Both men held in their following service games without any trouble for two apiece. Paire was showing off his tremendous drop volleys while Simon continued to try and keep his game the same way, consistency, which is something Paire can often have difficulty with.
Paire, the French number five, sometimes took points off as he looked too casual hitting shots. Leading 40-0 in the sixth game, the 14 seed hit a ball which Paire stared at and hit flat-footed into the net. Commentator Rob Koenig said, “I don’t understand that kind of point up 40-0.” He’s right in the sense that no player should take points off and just assume they will win games. He did win the game though as both players continued their strong service games after breaking each other in the opening two games. Paire kept displaying his phenomenal length and touch while Simon was painting the lines and hitting with fantastic depth.
Simon looked like he was in a bit of a jam, getting to 30-30 in the ninth game. He’d win back-to-back points though to hold for 5-4 as Paire screamed in frustration due to missed opportunities. The French number three raced out to a 0-30 lead off of a couple of Paire errors and earned himself three set points after hitting a scintillating cross-court backhand off of Paire’s backhand slice. Paire double-faulted on the first set point to gift wrap the set to Simon 6-4.
A Paire Of Drop Shots Makes The Difference
Simon began the second set picking up where he left off in the first with a hold at love to make it 10 consecutive points on the bounce. Paire finally ended his poor run of games, and points for that matter, with a hold at love to open the set. For the first time since they broke each other, a game went to deuce. It was in the fifth game with Simon serving at two apiece. He avoided any danger though, holding for 3-2. The 14 seed felt a bit of pressure from the French number five in his next service game. He squandered a 30-0 lead to fall behind 30-40. Paire converted the break with jaw-dropping backhand drop volley off of a Simon forehand as he led 4-3.
Paire knew he needed to hold serve because the last time he broke for a lead, he was broken right back. He fell behind 15-40 but saved the first break point off a fantastic serve and volley play. He could not save the second though as he double-faulted to give the break right back.
A match which saw very few breaks due to some stellar serving saw a third consecutive break in a row. At 30-all with Simon serving, Paire lobbed his countryman, and the ball landed in while the 14 seed thought it was headed wide the whole time. Paire used his favorite backhand to get the break and get a 5-4 lead after hitting an absolute frozen rope winner down the line.
The French number five has not held serve after he has broken, but he was ever so determined to finally achieve that. At 15-30, he displayed a phenomenal serve and volley as he hit the volley with his racket head nearly flat with the ball right in front of his head. The ball went over the net and spun away from Simon in what has to be the shot of the tournament so far. An ace gave him set point which he would take 6-4 after Simon hit a shot long.
Simon Delivers A Baguette To Paire
Simon had to press the reset button after a poor end to the second set. He did just that by racing out to a 3-0 lead with a break on Paire’s serve. The plot looked to be unfolding for Paire in the fourth game as the 14 seed was threatening to break again. A couple of stunning points from him though got him on the board, but he was still down 1-3.
Paire didn’t want this match to end just yet though. He had a mini-opening at 15-30 in the fifth game, but it was all business from the 14 seed to extend his lead to 4-1. Simon displayed brilliant hands to go up 0-30 as he took a Paire drop shot on a full sprint and dropped it cross-court away from his countryman. He would break for a 5-1 lead as Paire looked out of it.
The 14 seed had a couple of set points to close out the match and did just that as Paire hit a backhand long. Simon had many more break opportunities throughout the match, 12. He did just enough to win the match converting five of those breaks.