French tennis star Benoit Paire is happy to have fans at this year's Madrid Masters as playing tournaments behind the closed doors was a struggle for him this season. Paire, who arrived to Madrid on a seven-match losing streak, ended his drought on Tuesday when he surprised last week's Munich champion Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Paire admitted they were days when he was struggling to get out of the bed on match days. But that wasn't the case in Madrid. "It had been a very long time since I entered a court with people around me supporting me.
Being in empty stadiums is not something that I like. So being in Madrid in a Davis Cup atmosphere with French people who support me from start to finish, it makes me feel good and makes me love tennis again. That’s why I play and it warms my heart,” Paire said during an interview with L’Equipe.
Paire has had a horrible season
Paire has won only two and lost 10 matches this season. However, playing in front of fans gave new energy to Paire, who hopes to play better in the rest of the season. “It’s a tough time for me.
I have trouble feeling good in my head, in my legs, in my tennis … But I don’t just play for myself, I also play for the people who are there and who support me. I had to, for the recognition of this support, not to let go.
It was not easy, I had to put myself in my head.’ He said.
“For me, it’s a bit like the start of my season.’
“I know that a lot of people criticized me and I really wanted to show them that they can be silent”.
Madrid features crowd but there is no guarantee for Paire that he will again have to play at a tournament which is staged behind the closed doors. "If I find myself in a closed-door tournament, locked in a bubble, I’m not saying I won’t feel bad,” Paire admits.
“Today (Tuesday) was great, but if the conditions are different it will be difficult. But for now, I’ll take advantage.’
“As for all the people who talk about me, I tell them that in a normal atmosphere, I am able to come back to a very good level. Before the pandemic, I was 22nd in the world”.