There was a time Benoit Paire was one of the most utterly beguiling and droll shotmakers in pro tennis, his polo collar properly popped and his fist ripping flat forehands with abandon.

Things with our pal Paire were très amusant.

Those days are gone, at least for the time being.

Still perched at No. 35 in the world, and at just age 31, Paire has lost the proverbial plot.


In short, that's dark. And it's not as if other players haven't been where he is. A global army of these independent contractors have been perched in such a spot, a rut, and worked their way out of it. Or they turned that rut into a groove.

Or they quit for good.

Even the GOAT, Serena Williams, famously said in January 2012, after winning her first-round match in Brisbane, Australia, that "I don't love tennis today, but I'm here."

Perhaps the difference was this: She won. On that day, she got it done—despite herself, her whims and lapses and self-disclosed lack of passion at the time.

The greats push through. But there's this fact, as Paire shared in his recent Racquet magazine essay, that he has no such aspirations to be great, or more than Top 30-to-50 successful. Which, as it turns out, is a damn good career. It's a great gig if you can get it.

Maintenant, c'est un problème.

At present, Paire doesn't seem to want to put up a fight, let alone map a match victory.

For all his spite-spitting, for the tanked-match-accusations and responses, there's still something about Paire that leads many a fan to want to root for him. At the least, to appreciate his radical candor.

If he wants it, he's gone miles (read: kilos) to go. By today's tennis standards, he could have a glistening half-decade of his career left, maybe more.

To be sure, he's not one who anyone sees competing until he's up against age 40. And hardly everyone needs it.

Here's a plea: Benoit, we beseech thee. Take some time away. Everyone at this level, your level, needs it. It's been a year—it's been quite the 12 to 14 months—for everyone, you included. Others need introspective or restorative time to themselves. (Hi, Stefanos Tsitsipas!) Do that thing, your thing on your own time. Return to the tennis court, refreshed, and make many a fan enjoy that two-hour-sofa-time, televised game again, as the few like you can.

We still see that glint in your eye when the light hits just right.