French tennis star Benoit Paire was happy to have fans at the Madrid Masters as he ended his seven-match losing streak on Tuesday. Paire, a former world No. 18, stunned last week's Munich champion Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 7-5 to reach the Madrid Masters second round.
"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, as revealed on Ubitennis.
Paire 'can not play' behind the closed doors
"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.’ Paire 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”.
Paire plays next against Stefanos Tsitsipas. "If I find myself in a closed-door tournament, locked in a bubble, I’m not saying I won’t feel bad,” he 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”.