Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - French tennis has certainly picked up the
pace in recent years -- well, on the men's side anyway -- and the latest of its
quality ball-strikers is Benoit Paire.
With a win Friday in Rome, Paire surged into his first-ever ATP World Tour
Masters 1000 semifinal. He has been a steady climber over the last two seasons.
The 6-foot-5 Avignon native, who turned 24 on May 8, was ranked 95th in
the world at the end of 2011, finished 2012 at No. 47 after being one of the
most-improved players for the year and currently rests at No. 36 as his stock
continues to rise. He's climbed in the rankings in each of his seven
Is he as good as some of his fellow countrymen, like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,
Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon?
He just may be.
Paire recorded the first Top-10 win of his career by stunning world No. 7 and
former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in Rome this week.
"(This season) I am making the progress we want with my coach (Lionel
Zimbler). When you see the match with del Potro -- it was the best match,"
Paire is enjoying the best season of his career, reaching a career-high No. 32
in the world last month. He landed in his second career ATP final in
Montpellier in his native France in February, losing to the current
world No. 9 Gasquet, and he was a semifinalist in Chennai, India, back in
His first career final came last year at the now-defunct Serbia Open in
Belgrade, where he lost to steady Italian Andreas Seppi.
The clay-court-loving Paire has some quality wins this year against the likes
of del Potro, Marin Cilic and compatriot Gilles Simon, but one area that
needs major improvement would be his results at the majors. The talented
Frenchman has reached the third round (Wimbledon 2012) at only one of his 10
career Grand Slams, including an opening-round loss at this year's Australian
The tall, slender Paire, nicknamed "La Tige," boasts a quality two-fisted
backhand and certainly is a creative player, like most Frenchmen, but if he
wants to challenge the big boys, he'll have to work on his forehand. His
overall game has steadily improved to the point where I believe the forehand
can follow suit.
Paire will take a crack at reaching the second week at the second major of the
year when the French Open swings into action in less than two weeks.
Can he do it?
The Sports Network