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By Erik Gudris

Benoit Paire (January 13, 2013) -- With his mercurial yet exciting game, Benoit Paire will probably earn even more fans when he meets Roger Federer in the first round of the Australian Open. Learn more about this rising French player.

1. Avignon Ace: Paire was born in Avignon, France on August 5th, 1989. He still calls Avignon home.

2. Early Days: Paire started playing tennis at the age of six with his father who used to at a small tennis club near their home.

3. Future Force: Though he didn't have much success on the junior circuit, Paire did quite well in Futures and Challenger events during his early days on the tour. He won two Challenger events in 2011 and also ended that year ranked inside the top 100.

4. Belgrade Breakthrough: 2012 was Paire's best season yet. He reached his first main tour final at the Serbia Open (losing to Andreas Seppi). Paire earned 26 match wins on the year and finished ranked inside the top 50.

5. Playing Style: Paire has a reputation as a talented yet unpredictable player. Despite possessing a big serve and solid two-handed backhand, the Frenchman loves to try crazy shots at every opportunity, especially drop shots. Early in his career Paire said, "If I just keep the ball in play, I get bored. We play tennis to have fun too, so I prefer to try things, dropshots, etc. Sometimes it’s brilliant, but sometimes, well, it’s really hopeless. A bit of everything." (Source: RMC Sport)

6. Nickname: Paire is known as "La Tige" -- French for "The Stalk" -- because of his long and thin frame.

7. Favorite Tournament: Despite his French roots, Paire actually calls another event his favorite. "U.S. Open is the best tournament. It’s where I played good for the first time in a Grand Slam. And for me with all the buildings and everything it is for me the best tournament.”

8. Le Bromance: Paire is very good friends with Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka. Both men constantly send messages to each on Twitter and often practice together. At the recent Chennai event, they teamed up and won the doubles title.

9. Tennis Idols: Though he has said that Marat Safin was his ideal player while growing up, Paire, while competing in L.A. last summer, also mentioned Andre Agassi as another favorite.

10. Terrific Tweener: For those who have never watched Paire in action, check out this leaping tweener he hit against Yen-Hsun Lu in Auckland. Some are already calling it the shot of the year.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo)


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