Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 25, 2020

Paire powers back from the brink to gain revenge


Eighth seed Benoit Paire fought off four match points to overcome Marin Cilic and reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday, winning 2-6 7-5 7-6 (1). The enthralling match lasted two hours 33 minutes and mirrored their gruelling battle at the recent Australian Open, which finished in victory for Cilic in a fifth set tie-break.

2014 US Open champion Cilic served for victory at 5-3 in the second set and held two match points, but Paire responded by winning the next four games and the set. Cilic then held two more match points at 6-5 in the decider, each of which Paire saved with an ace, before he went on to dominate the tie-break.

“Yeah, it was not easy today,” said Paire, who began the season by reaching the Auckland final. “I lost five times in a row against Marin. I was not confident before the match. But really happy about the win. It was not easy today. I was not feeling really good on court. Little bit sick two, three days. Really happy to win today and to fight until the end. Normally when it’s one set, 5-3, I normally tank (give up). This time I tried until the end. It was good working. Really happy about the win.

“The only thing is when you play against Marin, he was Top 10, he won a US Open, he won a lot of big tournaments, he is not seeded here, and honestly he’s very good player. I knew it will be difficult to beat him today. But that’s what I did.”

Paire has lost three matches this year, all in final set tie-breaks, and he was far from confident when he found himself approaching the same situation again.

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“For me mentally it was not easy to serve at 6-5 because I lost three matches this year at 7-6 in the third (in the fifth set in Melbourne). Even if you do 6-All, you going to lose. Why to fight until the end? This time I say, ‘Okay, I try’.”

The world No.21 faces compatriot Richard Gasquet in the second round. Paire won their most recent encounter, but 33-year-old Gasquet enjoys a 7-2 head-to-head record facing his fellow Frenchman.

There were also victories for Filip Krajinovic who defeated Joao Sousa 4-6 6-3 6-3, and Alexander Bublik who beat Hubert Hurzkacz 6-2 7-5. Two qualifiers reached the second round as Dennis Novak defeated Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-4 6-3 and Yasutaka Uchiyama navigated past Yen-Hsun Lu 3-6 6-1 6-2. Lu was playing only his second match since May 2018 after suffering from a right shoulder injury, and only his fourth tournament since 2017.


“We very much enjoyed watching the exciting match between Benoit Paire and Marin Cilic, and as in so many matches in this year’s tournament, both last week and this, the final outcome was in doubt until the last few minutes,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “A special mention must be made of Yen-Hsun Lu, who is working hard to re-establish himself in the game after suffering from a long-term injury. He will have been encouraged by his performance today, and we wish him well in the future.”

Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “Tennis fans have been entertained once more with a number of very close matches today. Few players are able to win with ease in such a competitive field, and there will no doubt be many more close contests before we crown the 2020 champion.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The tournament continues until 29th February with world No.1 and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, ATP Finals and recent Marseille winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 Rotterdam and Montpellier champion Gael Monfils and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.

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