Who is Benoit Paire, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon first round opponent?

Showman and world No.48 Benoit Paire will face Andy Murray in the first round of Wimbledon. Picture: Getty Images
Showman and world No.48 Benoit Paire will face Andy Murray in the first round of Wimbledon. Picture: Getty Images
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Andy Murray will face Benoit Paire in the first round of Wimbledon, should the Scot decide to play. Here’s all you need to know about Murray’s opponent...

• READ MORE - Andy Murray to face Benoit Paire in first round of Wimbledon 2018

Avignon-born Benoit Paire, ranked No.48 in the world, will face Andy Murray at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year. The pair met in the fourth round of last year’s tournament, with Murray taking the spoils in what was just the second meeting between the pair. Their first clash came in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo in 2016 in which Murray was also victorious.

Paire has just one single title to his name - the 2015 Swedish Open - while his career record stands at 163–175. His highest ranking was No.18 in 2016.

How has he performed in the slams?

Paire’s best result in a Grand Slam was reaching the fourth round at the 2015 US Open and again at SW19 last year. At Flushing Meadow he defeated 4th seed Kei Nishikori in round one, Marsel Ilhan in the second round and Tommy Robredo in round three before losing to his compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round.

Standing 6ft 5in tall and sporting a bushy beard, Paire is very much the entertainer on court with a variety of trick shots in his arsenal. Picture: Getty Images

Standing 6ft 5in tall and sporting a bushy beard, Paire is very much the entertainer on court with a variety of trick shots in his arsenal. Picture: Getty Images

At Wimbledon last year he progressed past Rodrigo Dutra Silva, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jerzy Janowicz, meeting Murray in the fourth round.

He has reached the third round twice in the French Open (2013 and 2015) and the Australian Open (2014 and 2017). At Roland Garros in 2013, Paire defeated Marcos Baghdatis and Lukasz Kubot before losing to Nishikori in round three.

In 2015 he won against Gastao Elias and Fabio Fognini before falling to Tomas Berdych in round three.

At the Australian Open in 2014, Paire defeated qualifer Frank Dancevic in the first round, before a five-set epic against Nick Kyrgios resulted in the Frenchman advancing to round three, where he was knocked out in straight sets by Roberto Bautista-Agut.

In the same tournament in 2017, Paire defeated Tommy Haas, Fognini in round two and lost to Dominic Thiem in round three.

Biggest scalp?

He defeated former world no.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2012 Heineken Open in Auckland but he recorded six wins over top 10 players between 2013 and 2017.

He defeated World No.7 Juan Martin del Potro at the 2013 Italian Open in Rome and Stan Wawrinka (No.10) at the Canadian Open the same year. In 2015 he twice beat Kei Nishikori, ranked 4 and 6 respectively, at the US Open and the Japan Open. He then defeated Wawrinka again at Marseille in 2016 and again in 2017 at the Madrid Open, with the Swiss ranked at No.4 and No.3 respectively.

Earlier this year he recorded a surprise victory over Novak Djokovic in Miami, with the Serb ranked No.12 at the time.

However, of his matches against the “big four”, his victory over Djokovic is his sole high point. He has won one and lost one against Djokovic; lost two out of two against Murray; three out of three against Rafael Nadal and five out of five against Roger Federer.

In the past few years he has also recorded victories over 14 of the 32 top seeds at Wimbledon, including four of the top ten.

Playing style

Paire is very much the entertainer on court. A quick search on YouTube reveals a number of clips of the bushy-bearded Frenchman pulling off ridiculous “tweeners” and casual dropshots. His double-handed backhand is a particularly strong part of his game, to the extent that he has, in some matches, been seen to favour a backhand “inside-out” - that is, playing a backhand rather than a forehand. He also has a powerful first serve.

He isn’t shy of taking risks or the odd trick shot, endearing him to most crowds, but his 6ft 5in frame makes him a formidable opponent due to his reach and power.

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