Benoit Paire has admitted he may have played his last match of professional tennis after a controversial showing in the first round at the US Open that has left him facing an $80,000 fine.
The French veteran lost 6-0 7-6 (7-1) 6-0 to Cameron Norrie on Tuesday in a strange first-round clash in which Paire appeared not to be giving his maximum effort at times.
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Paire, who has been accused of tanking matches a number of times throughout his career, lost the first set in just 18 minutes and the third in 19.
He was so dispirited that at 0-5 down in the third set he packed all his things into his bag despite there being at least another game to play.
Paire stepped up his game in the second set when play was briefly halted amid sweltering conditions for a distressed fan, and he even had a chance to level the match when he served at 5-3.
But the veteran could not capitalise and was broken in the next game before being out-gunned in the one-sided tiebreak.
Speaking to French publication L'Equipe after the match, Paire admitted he was considering retiring.
“I was leading 5-3, I could have taken the second set, it would have done me good in the head, but my demons came back again, the double faults, and it starts all the time the same," he said.
“We’ll see what happens. I’m not sure to continue the season, maybe stop there and see if I resume next year.
“Even at grand slams, I find it difficult to fight. I hope one day to find a motivation, something that will make me love tennis. Right now, I’m the happiest when I’m at home and the unhappiest when I’m in the tournament.
“I don’t even want to get angry on a tennis court any more. It’s not a good sign – if I don’t get angry, it’s because I don’t care.”
Tennis world reacts to Benoit Paire controversy
Norrie said of Paire's showing: "Obviously it was really hot, and maybe towards the end of that third set he was playing really quick and trying to make the points really short, and maybe the heat was getting to him."
Paire, who sat down in a corner of the court to take advantage of the shade during a break in play, will pocket US$80,000 for his 98-minute defeat (AU$117,000).
However the Grand Slam board could be inclined to strip him of the prize money if they deem he didn't give his full effort.
The entire match was only 15 minutes longer than it took Carlos Alcaraz and Sebastian Baez to play the second set of their gruelling first round clash taking place at the same time on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Paire, now ranked 173 in the world, came into the tournament with just four wins all year.
He remains a polarising figure having been warned for not trying at Wimbledon in 2021.
He was also kicked off the French team at the Olympics last year for flouting team rules.
"He's a really good guy. Everyone loves him on the tour, and he's super talented, as well," Norrie said.
"Yeah, I think he has days like this, it's tough to be consistent on the tour playing like that."
Tennis fans and commentators were quick to condemn Paire's effort on Tuesday.
6-0, 7-6, 6-0 is a scoreline that could literally only happen in a Benoit Paire match. Can't think of another player who would produce it
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) August 30, 2022
Cam Norrie beats the barely trying Benoit Paire in 6-0 7-6 6-0. First set took 18 minutes, the third 19 minutes. If it was a horse race there would be a stewards' inquiry.
— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) August 30, 2022
Benoit Paire gets 80,000 US Dollars despite making zero effort in his first round match against Norrie. Shocking really, hope they give him a huge fine. pic.twitter.com/Y65oTW7dkI
— R.Belly⚫️⚪️🍀 (@BellChapo1892) August 30, 2022
In Benoit Paire's defence, I too turn up at my job everyday with the attitude of someone that would rather be anywhere else in the world...
— Scott Barclay (@BarclayCard18) August 30, 2022
I’m stunned stunned that Benoit Paire would do this. Well not stunned at all https://t.co/uSP7blfYpV
— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) August 30, 2022
Benoit Paire is a joke and the commentators are taking full advantage of it.
— Lee S (@underarm_ace) August 30, 2022
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