Entering Lyon with an average 11-12 score, the Frenchman Benoit Paire has gone all the way to lift the third ATP title and the second of the season after Marrakech. On Saturday, Benoit defeated Taylor Fritz in just over an hour and delivered excellent tennis in the title match as well, ousting the 4th seed Felix Auer-Aliassime 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 20 minutes to celebrate the crown in front of the home fans.
Felix reached the second ATP final of the season and became the first 18-year-old with multiple ATP title matches since Andy Murray in 2006 but couldn't make next big step and claim the title and become the youngest ATP champion since Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach 2008.
Losing just 13 points in nine service games, Paire controlled the pace and the scoreboard, suffering one break and taking 44% of the return points, clinching four breaks from nine opportunities. The Frenchman tamed his shots nicely, mixing up the game and keeping the points on his racquet with high-quality drop shots and powerful groundstrokes that the youngster had no answer for.
The Canadian saved two break points at the beginning of the match before Paire seized a break in game three following a double fault from Auger-Aliassime. Felix fended off three break points in game seven although his return game just wasn't there, allowing Benoit to close the opener with a perfect drop shot in game ten for a 6-4 after 49 minutes.
A backhand down the line winner pushed Paire in front early in the second set as well, only to suffer a break in game four, bringing Felix back to 2-2. The youngster couldn't stay on the positive side of the scoreboard for too long, though, spraying a forehand error in the next game to suffer another break, with Paire building the confidence and moving over the top with another successful return game at 5-3 for the second ATP title on clay this spring.
It was another great week for the rising Canadian who had to deal with a groin injury, receiving medical timeout in the semi-final against Nikoloz Basilashvili and feeling the pain against Benoit too. After the match, Auger-Aliassime admitted he barely managed to finish the match and decided to withdraw from the second Grand Slam of the season where he would have been seeded for the first time in a career.