Frenchman Benoit Paire has rejected any suggestions that he was not trying during his ASB Classic first-round defeat to former Kiwi Cameron Norrie, saying that his strange performance was down to jet lag.

He also indirectly blamed tournament organisers for his display, saying he was forced to play less than a day after arriving from India, via Abu Dubai and Melbourne on a 28-hour journey.

The 55th-ranked Paire, who has been ranked as high as No 18, gave a listless, error-ridden display against Norrie - going down 6-3, 6-2.

After being competitive early on, he seemed to lose interest.

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Benoit Paire blamed ASB Classic organisers and a challenging travel schedule for his surprise loss. Photo / Photosport
Benoit Paire blamed ASB Classic organisers and a challenging travel schedule for his surprise loss. Photo / Photosport

After losing the first set he applauded Norrie and often clapped along with the crowd as they supported the Auckland-raised player, who switched allegiances to Great Britain in 2013.

He barely moved to his backhand side in the second set and feigned falling asleep in his chair during one break.

He was wildly erratic — mixing the occasional winner with plenty of errors — but refuted any suggestions he had given up.

"Honestly I was trying," Paire told the Herald.

"I was trying with what I could. Try to do a travel of 28 hours and play the day after and you will see it's not easy for the body. I tried to do my best but my best was not very high today.

"When you don't sleep and you travel 28 hours your body is not fit. It was not easy. After one break I tried to do my best and run 100 per cent but I felt something in the legs.

"Honestly the most important thing today was not to be injured and just try to do my best."

Paire arrived in Auckland at 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon and was surprised to be scheduled to play the following afternoon.

"I was not supposed to play on Monday but they forget to put me on Tuesday," said Paire.

"I asked but they didn't receive the email from my agent. They said 'we didn't know'. That's why I played on Monday. They said they weren't sorry, they couldn't change the schedule because it was out."

"We didn't receive any requests from the ATP tour supervisor or through the official channels," said tournament director Karl Budge. "We did receive an email from his agent, but it wasn't seen until after the schedule was locked in."

It was an important win for Norrie, in his first appearance in the Auckland main draw after four previous qualifying attempts.

Before Paire fell away, Norrie showed his ability to hold his nerve, saving two break points in the first set, before he forced the crucial break at 4-4.

The second set was more of a procession, though Norrie had to stay alert against the unpredictable Frenchman.

Cameron Norrie said he noticed Benoit Paire was 'very casual' during their match. Photo / Getty
Cameron Norrie said he noticed Benoit Paire was 'very casual' during their match. Photo / Getty

"I was obviously a little bit nervous," said Norrie.

"I just tried to enjoy it. I fought off some break points in the first and managed to out-tough him in the second."

"He [was] being very casual but can suddenly turn it on. He's a tricky player and I [didn't] let his body language and his casualness influence me too much."

Phillip Kohlschreiber also progressed, beating American qualifier Bradley Klahn 6-4 7-6(2).

The 2008 champion, making his first appearance in Auckland in five years, gave a typically efficient, measured display.

Americans Taylor Fritz and Tennys Sandgren were others to advance to the second round, while Kiwi Artem Sitak and Dutch partner Austin Krajicek overwhelmed the young local pairing of Ajeet Rai and George Stoupe 6-3 6-2 in the doubles.