Philippe Vaillant and Denis Troch, specialists in mental preparation, tried to understand for RMC Sport the spleen of French tennis player Benoit Paire.
Benoit Paire unscrews. And the whole world is flocking to his bedside. The French tennis player has once again poured out his moods after a defeat in the first round of Monte-Carlo last weekend. “I don’t give a damn… Fighting, not fighting… They say it’s Monte-Carlo, but we play in an atmosphere of rarely seen sadness. That’s how the circuit has become rotten, “said Benoît Paire at a press conference, confirming a feeling already expressed this year. In reality, Benoît Paire is as he always has been, true to himself.
The Frenchman rarely mince words or hide his frustration. This temperament has often played tricks on him, reflecting an image of him from which he suffered with the general public, and which will have ended up testing his morale. This has happened more than once in his career. This time, it is the pandemic and its consequences that have pushed the French to the limit. “The behavior of athletes is exacerbated in this kind of extraordinary situation. Everything is exacerbated in these complex moments”, explains Denis Troch, former football coach turned mental coach.
“We can put people into two categories, intraverts and extroverts, analyzes Philippe Vaillant, specialist in mental preparation for tennis players. Intraverts have no problem playing without an audience. On the other hand, we take away from the players. extroverts the very essence of their reason for living. Benoît Paire is certainly an extrovert. In this situation, his primary motivation and his way of finding in him his strengths and his own resources are practically taken away. I imagine that for him, it’s super hard. And since the notion of pleasure is absent, that’s a lot. “
“It’s like asking an actor to play in an empty room”
Psychologically very affected by the health measures linked to the pandemic, and in particular the absence of the public, Paire no longer accepts this sad routine that has become his daily life. “It is the personalities of each of us who are more able to cope with the complexity of a system, continues Denis Troch. This does not mean that he is weaker or less good mentally. But we do not. He sees more meaning in it, nor the reasons for which we invest, whereas it was perhaps a few months or a few years ago, his dream. A vision he had of life, a profession that he loved it. “
Benoît Paire, who has repeatedly expressed his blues and sometimes been at the limit in his behavior on the court, collecting a warning from the FFT, fought for more than three hours on the court on Sunday. Caught up by his old demons, however, he bowed for the fifth time in a row when he entered the running. And his primary intention at the end of the match was certainly not to switch to the next tournament with the desire to do battle to go up the slope.
No, his own desire is to come home, to leave the Monte-Carlo “cemetery atmosphere” at all costs, and this life as a globetrotter tennis player which no longer makes him happy. “In any professional environment, deprived of one of the components that make the pleasure or the interest of this profession, we lose something, a desire, explains Philippe Vaillant. Tennis players still have a very dissolute life. everyone thinks it’s great, but it’s not that great. So if, on top of that, you lose the pleasure of playing in front of an audience and putting on a show, it’s like asking an actor to play in an empty room. “
If it is not necessarily an isolated case on the circuit, other players are also very happy to evolve on the circuit in times of pandemic, like Ugo Humbert. “I can very well understand that an athlete needs an audience, the emulation that it brings, that it be one of the engines that pushes him to play, and that not having that, he finds less pleasure . Now, are all athletes subject to that? A priori, no, concludes our specialist. Some seem to be content with it very well. “