Have you ever been in a situation where you know something bad is about to happen. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want to, you just can't look away?
That was the situation on Court 10 Wednesday afternoon as Frenchman Benoit Paire took on Belgian David Goffin. Paire known for his antics and fiery behavior on the court, was in full form.
Up 4-1 in the first set, Paire had a disagreement with a line judge about a call. It wasn't match point, set point, or even game point. It was enough however to send the Frenchman into a fit of rage starting with the line judge, then turning to the umpire. It must be noted here, that Court 10 does not have shot spot.
In sports it is often said games are won and lost in one square foot of real-estate. This one call would take control of much of the set, as Paire could not regain composure. At one point he was given a warning when he spat on the ball mark of the disputed call. Paire would continue voicing his displeasure with chair umpire Damian Steiner over the next few games and Goffin would tie it up at 5-5. Paire would regain his compusure to take the last two games of the set 7-5.
Paires strange behavior would continue in the second set. Struggling early, Paire would start arguing with Steiner again. The strangeness reached its peak moment when during the second set, Paire was slow coming off the court on a change over, and spoke to Steiner. Steiner would send a tournament aide away leaving fans wondering what was going on with Paire. Moments later the aide would return with a can of coke which Paire would proceed to take a drink of.
Paire would ever get over an early break in dropped the second set 4-6. Goffin to his credit never showed any sign of frustration with his opponents antics, but in the set change over leading to the third set, he would take advantage of Paire's ever increasing fragile mental state.
Goffin would take a bathroom break.
While Goffin was gone Paire paced back and forth often stopping to lodge complaints with the chair about the long delay of the bathroom break. Goffin came back and match play continued but Paire was lost, often hitting balls long or taking ill-advised drop shots. At one point Paire addressed the fans in attendance saying,
"Maybe next time I'll take a long bathroom break and change my shirt!"
As the set kept progressing and his frustration mounted, he finally snapped and repeatedly slammed his racket on the ground. After a quick change of rackets, giving his old one to a little girl in the front row, Paire was able to salvage a couple of games before finally falling to the 11 seeded Goffin in the third set 2-6.
Overall it was a great match when the players focused on the play. They had long rallies that often ended in really tight shots on the lines. Both servers were on their games with Paire being able to save a few crucial points early on with 17 aces.
What will always be remembered in this match though, is the legend that has become Benoit Paire