WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Benoit Paire overcame a second set of simmering frustration that ended with a smashed racket and point penalty to advance to the Auckland Open final on Friday and a showdown with fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert.
The 30-year-old Paire beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-7(1) 6-2 to set up a final on Saturday with Humbert, who earlier tamed the big serve of U.S. two-time champion John Isner in a 7-6(5) 6-4 win.
It will be 21-year-old Humbert’s first ATP Tour final.
“I’m very sorry,” Paire said of his tantrums. “I broke one racket and … I only have two left so I have to be careful in the final before I get to Australia.
“To play against Ugo in the final, two Frenchman, is very special.”
Paire, who lost to Hurkacz in the final in Winston-Salem in August, appeared to become frustrated towards the end of the first set when he wasted his first opportunity to serve out.
Two double faults gave Hurkacz the break and the Pole then served to love with the Frenchman visibly annoyed and appearing to just want to get off court.
Paire ensured he closed out the set the next game but his frustration levels increased in the second set and he smashed a ball out of the stadium when he was broken and then complained throughout the tie-break of a fan heckling him.
He smashed his racket on set point and having received a warning when he earlier hit the ball into the adjoining Auckland Domain he simply walked off and sat down as the umpire awarded Hurkacz a penalty point and the set.
Paire, however, raced through the decider and advanced to his ninth final when Hurkacz served his seventh double fault.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by John Stonestreet)