Benoit Paire eliminated in five sets by Cameron Norrie in the first round

The French, brought to Suzanne-Lenglen’s court by the crowd, came close to defeating the No. 14 seed on Monday, but had to bow out in five sets.

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Benoît Paire of France during his Roland-Garros first round match against Britain's Cameron Norrie, May 29, 2023. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP)

Benoit Paire came close to Roland-Garros, with an invitation obtained in extremis. And Benoit Paire almost qualified for the second round. Almost, because the Frenchman, who was leading two sets to one against Cameron Norrie (seeded No. 14), lost definitively on Monday May 29 in five sets and a fight lasting over three hours (7-5, 4-6, 3 -6, 6-1, 6-4). The Briton will find Lucas Pouille in the second round.

As often happens with Paire, the scenario of the match went very high, like during the second set, boosted, and very low, like in the fourth set, completely dropped in 26 minutes. The Habs took the match from the right side for a long time, keeping their emotions in check despite losing a contested first set, and even a dangerous slide from the first points. With a crowd that rallied his case throughout the match, Paire gradually eased back into the match, to the point where he then confidently pocketed the next two sets.

In merger for several games, Benoît Paire now leads two sets to one against Cameron Norrie, 13th in the world, on a totally merged Court Suzanne-Lenglen.  He's one more set and will join Lucas Pouille in the second round of Roland-Garros 2023.

81 unforced errors

But the truth of one set is rarely that of the next with Benoit Paire. Avignonnais completely lost a fourth round when they were nonetheless in a positive momentum, carried by ‘Ola’ and a crowd ready to cheer at every winning shot. In question: 81 unforced errors in total, versus 40 for his opponent, and too many wastes that kept Cameron Norrie in the game.

Back on the field in the final round, Paire even led 3-1 after taking an early lead, before seeing the captivating Brit come back on his heels, then leveling it at 4-4, before falling ahead to a Pair who has seen an acceptable match pass before his eyes. Here he stops on lap 1 for the third consecutive time at Porte d’Auteuil. In the next round, Norrie will face a resurgent Lucas Pouille, who knocked out Jurij Rodionov in the first round after beating him in qualifying just days earlier.

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