Paire in France team for Davis Cup semifinals against Spain
PARIS (AP) — Benoit Paire received his first Davis Cup call-up on Tuesday and will be part of the France team that takes on Spain in the semifinals.
In the absence of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, who are out injured, the 56th-ranked Paire was selected by France captain Yannick Noah.
Noah said he received guarantees from the quick-tempered Paire, a talented player known for smashing his rackets, that he was “motivated” and committed to the team.
“We expect to take on a squad featuring Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreno Busta. In that context, Benoit could be very useful,” Noah said.
Noah also called up Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet for the Sept. 14-16 series in Lille, with Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau to play doubles. Adrian Mannarino made the team as a reserve.
Paire has had a strained relationship with the French tennis federation. Two years ago, he was sent home from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after the FFT accused him of breaking “team rules.” He reportedly sometimes stayed away from the village, or came back late. He also made dismissive comments about the importance of the games because there are no ranking points.
Asked about Paire’s hot-headed temperament and if he could be a problem for the team’s cohesion, Noah said he was more concerned by Nadal’s form.
“The left-handed Spaniard is worrying me more than anything else,” Noah said. “He is tough. His mind is made of steel.”
While French players had a disappointing showing at the U.S. Open, Nadal made it to the second week of the tournament. He has been in excellent form this year, winning his 11th title at Roland Garros and 17th Grand Slam trophy overall. Pouille and Gasquet lost in the third round at Flushing Meadows while Paire was beaten in straight sets by Roger Federer in the second round.
“The guys don’t want to look back. They now have a good chance to get their confidence back, to win this tie then to get ready for the final,” Noah said.
Matches will be played on an indoor hard court at the 27,500-capacity Pierre Mauroy Stadium, with the roof closed. France won its 10th Davis Cup title last year in the same venue, beating Belgium 3-2.
Croatia hosts the United States in the other semifinal series.