paire-contemplates-ending-season-after-'demons'-return-at-us-open

NEW YORK : Benoit Paire said his “demons” returned during his first round loss to Cameron Norrie at the U.S. Open on Tuesday where the Frenchman struggled to stay focused during the match’s biggest moments.

Paire did not appear to be putting in maximum effort at times against Norrie in the first set but stepped up his game in the second and even served for the set while leading 5-3.

But the opportunity slipped away and an error-strewn tiebreak and one-sided third set eventually produced the bizarre scoreline of 6-0 7-6(1) 6-0 on a blazingly hot day at Flushing Meadows.

“I was leading 5-3 and I could have taken the second set, that would have done me good mentally, but my demons returned again, the double faults, and it all starts again,” Paire was quoted as saying in French language sports daily L’Equipe.

“I am not sure if I will continue the season, maybe stop there and see if I come back next year. At the moment, I need some rest.”

Known for his flashy play and mercurial personality, the popular 33-year-old has in the past been open about his struggles with depression.

He has reached as high as world number 18 but has struggled this year, with a slew of first round exits resulting in a dismal win-loss record of 4-21 and a world ranking of 173.

Paire hopes a break from the sport might help him reset.

“It’s a bit tough. Even when I stop and come back, it is the head that is not there,” he said.

“It is not about the tennis – if it were I would not be leading 5-3 against Norrie, who is a top guy.

“The problem is in the head. You see it again as soon as it is an important moment, I am not good. I am having trouble breathing, I make double faults. It is still my weapon, the serve, and I find myself making four double faults in the tiebreak.

“I am going to go away for a bit and take some time for myself.”

Norrie praised Paire after booking his spot in the second round.

“On the days I’m not playing him I wish him all the best,” the seventh-seeded Briton said.

“I’m always saying hi to him. He’s a really good guy. Everyone loves him on the tour, and he’s super talented, as well.”

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