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Ball Breaker: Paire Trashes RG Balls as Rubbish

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, May 29, 2023

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

French wild card Benoit Paire sent home fans into a frenzy building a 4-2 fifth-set lead over Cameron Norrie.

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Then the 14th-seeded Briton muted French fans and Paire's upset bid fighting back for a wild 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 Roland Garros triumph on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

After nearly bouncing the Brit, Paire trashed the tournament's Wilson balls as "rubbish."

The bearded Frenchman say the balls get so heavy with dirt it penalizes aggressive players who struggle to finish points.

"You play with balls that get bigger after two seconds," Paire said. "The new balls don't even last a game. The balls are rubbish.

"That's not the reason why I didn't win. You can't play tennis, though, with that type of balls. You can't attack. You can't move ahead. It's impossible to play an ace. It's another style of tennis, which is different. It requires physical qualities. It's a question of who can keep the ball in the court for the longest."

Paire claims the fluffier balls turn Roland Garros into a grinding game.

"My game is based on service and aggressive hits back, but the ball is just not moving," Paire said. "It's terrible. My game is based on my serves. You have to hit every ball really hard because it's not moving. It's terrible. It's Roland Garros, one of the greatest tournaments in the world, and we're playing with these silly balls.

"But, of course, that doesn't take anything away from the fact that I lost, and that's not why I lost today. If I lost, it's because Cameron was better than I was. But we played a great match. But, it is a shame to play with those balls."

Contesting his 14th consecutive Roland Garros, Paire is not the first man to complain about the balls.

A few years back, king of clay Rafa Nadal said the ball "was very slow."

It should be noted both Nadal and Paire are long-time Babolat players. French brand Babolat had been the official ball of the tournament before Wilson became the official French Open ball.

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev has said he feels the ball issue is much ado about nothing since players sometimes have to adapt to a different ball each week.

"I like the balls because, yeah, tennis is a funny and interesting sport," Medvedev said in a prior Roland Garros interview. "It's normal that when one player doesn't like something, second one maybe is going to like it I like it so far."

Photo credit: Getty