Shortly before his first-round match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open, Benoit Paire took a photo of his supper. It was the post of a man totally at peace with what was about to happen to him.
Good for him, because Rafa squashed him Monday, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Paire—a wayward Frenchman with a crushing baseball swing for a backhand and formerly a top-20 player—seemed like maybe the type of guy who could create just enough chaos to take a set. This ended up being far from the case. Nadal was kind enough to help him off the dirt.
At match’s end, Paire shrugged, as if to say, yeah, I didn’t expect much else, either.
“I need to serve better than I did today,” said Nadal, who won 66.7 percent of his first-serve points, a dip below the 72.4 percent he averaged during his 17-1 clay season. It’ll be a few more rounds before those concerns are tested by a real threat. His second victim is world No. 46 Robin Haase.