The words “strange” and “weird” have often been used to describe matches involving Benoit Paire. His latest one on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open was no exception.
Paire lost to Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-2 in a first-round contest that required only one hour and five minutes to be completed. The fragile Frenchman double-faulted nine times, served at a horrendous 35 percent, and won a mere 31 percent of his second-serve points.
Fritz, on the other hand, smacked five aces without double-faulting and fought off the only break point he faced.
“It was just a weird match because the ankle or foot injury or issue he had in the beginning,” the19-year-old American noted. “Sometimes he’d move really well; sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he would just double-fault; sometimes he’d hit an ace.
“Just kind of focusing on myself and trying to keep my level consistent and focus on what I needed to do (was the key),” he added. “I had to focus on me and not so much what he’s doing or thinking about what he’s doing. Yeah, it was just a strange match.”
Perhaps no match was stranger than an all-American contest between Donald Young and Stefan Kozlov. Both men double-faulted eight times, neither played served better than 59 percent, and only two of seven break points were saved throughout the opening set. In the end, it was Young who survived in the form of a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory.
The two countrymen combined to fight off all eight break points in the second frame of play (four apiece), many of which took place during a crucial service hold by Kozlov at 5-5. Young answered to force a tiebreaker, and that’s when things really got crazy.
Young double-faulted four times in the tiebreaker alone, but he kept his chances alive by winning every single return point. Only one return point was one in the entire ‘breaker, and the Memphis and Delray Beach semifinalist seized it at 5-5. The match ended one point later when Kozlov shanked a backhand volley.
Next up for Young in round two is another all-American affair with recent Acapulco champion Sam Querrey.