Entering Marrakech with a 4-9 score in 2019 and ranked just inside the top-70, Benoit Pairegave his best to overcome five obstacles and win the first ATP title since summer of 2015 and Bastad. Battling with the rivals in Morocco, Benoit was waiting for news from Monte Carlo at the same time, missing the main draw entry list and hoping for a wild card to compete in front of the home crowd for the seventh year in a row.
Instead of that, the organizers had given the invitations to Lucas Catarina, Jaume Munar (whom Benoit beat easily in Marrakech), Thanasi Kokkinakis and Felix Auger-Aliassime, leaving the Frenchman empty-handed despite a great week he had in Morocco.
To make things even worse, Kokkinakis was forced to withdraw before the start of the event due to an injury and Auger-Aliassime would have entered the main draw directly anyway without a wild card, with Gael Monfils withdrawing some hour and a half after the draw was released.
Thus, Benoit had to skip this week's action and wasn't happy about that, expressing his thoughts about the organizers with ironic "Merci" message on Twitter. Three weeks ago, Pablo Andujar defeated Benoit Paire in the final of Marbella Challenger, building the momentum before Marrakech where he was the defending champion after a great run in 2018.
The Spaniard and the Frenchman advanced into another title match and this time it was Paire who had the upper hand, scoring a 6-2, 6-3 triumph in just 65 minutes for only the second ATP crown after Bastad 2015. Competing in Marrakech and awaiting to receive Monte Carlo Masters main draw (he wouldn't get it), Benoit was on the verge of defeat against Aljaz Bedene in the opening round, trailing 5-4 with a break before claiming three straight games to pass the first obstacle.
Triumphs over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jaume Munar sent him into the semi-final where he erased the deficit against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the decider on Saturday to advance into the sixth ATP final and the first since Metz 2017.
There, Andujar stood no chance, creating only one break point that Benoit defended to mount the pressure on the other side of the net, pushing the defending champion to the limits on the second serve and securing three breaks that carried him over the top.
Pablo erased a break point in the second game with an ace to avoid an early setback although he needed more of those after a poor performance on the return that saw Paire sailing through all the service games in the opener.
The Frenchman earned a break in game six after a forehand error from Pablo and a forced mistake from Andujar at 5-2 for another break and the opener. The second set offered seven good holds on both sides and two games that determined the winner in the closing stages.
A deep return pushed Paire 4-2 up and he saved a break point in the next game when Pablo netted a backhand, extending the lead and crossing the finish line with a forehand winner at 5-3 to celebrate the first ATP crown in almost four years.