The French Open’s decision to move to September has forced the various governing bodies to unite for a coordinated response and has reaffirmed the need for closer cooperation
For the past three weeks of isolation, Stan Wawrinka and Benoît Paire have spent much of their idle time talking on Instagram. They invariably log in with a glass in hand, giggling and trading stories as they drink together and entertain their followers. Wawrinka of Switzerland is much more famous and the superior tennis player, but in this setting Paire, a bearded six feet five inches of sheer eccentricity, is the focal point. During their latest conversation, a fan asked whether they had ever had sex within an hour of a match. As an amused Wawrinka sipped and revealed nothing, Paire shrugged and said: “Yes. It never bothered me.”
In some ways, Paire, a Frenchman currently ranked 22nd, is a reflection of the disruptive, entertaining role that France plays in tennis. As with most male French tennis players, his game is a volatile marriage of flamboyance and self-destruction. Paire is as likely to scythe an opponent to pieces with a million perfect drop shots as he is to be booed off the court at home by his own supporters after another trademark meltdown. Between Paire, Gaël Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, French players are agents of chaos on the court.