Flamboyant Frenchman Benoit Paire says the atmosphere at the ASB Classic can be distracting, with the dining and drinking courtside, though admits he would love to have "a beer" with the fans.

During his first round match Paire complained on several occasions about spectators talking during points, especially during a tight first set against young Italian Jannik Sinner.

The ASB Classic is one of the few venues around the world where fans in corporate boxes, sitting metres from the players, have food and drink delivered to their seats, sometimes making for a rowdy climate, as punters get over excited.

The world No 24 Paire was frustrated at times on Monday night, but says overall he loves the vibe.


"I [complained] a little bit because I was losing and it was not easy for me at this moment," said Paire. "For sure when you are playing and you hear someone talking or something it is not easy, but I prefer someone like this than nobody on the court."

"Sometimes it happens," added Paire. "Honestly it's good if the crowd enjoy it, and have some beer and drink some wine. It was a good moment and I think they enjoy this moment too. Maybe sometimes it is too much but I am very happy to play in front of a crowd like this and if I can have a beer with them I will be happy at the end."

Paire, who will face Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro (world No 86) in Wednesday's second round, lived up to his reputation as one of most talented and entertaining players on tour on Monday, at one point playing a half volley from between his legs, then after another rally enthusiastically applauding his opponent's winner.

The 30-year-old courted controversy here last year after a lethargic first round defeat, where he appeared to feign falling asleep during one break between games and barely chased to his backhand side at times, though he later blamed his erratic display on jet lag after an arduous journey from India.

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

This year Paire is in much better frame of mind, after a short hop from Sydney, where he played three matches in the ATP Cup.

"I could sleep the day before, so it was good news for me, " laughed Paire, who is seeded fifth. "I had time to enjoy Auckland and two or three times to practice here. Last year, just arriving from Pune, 14 hours flight, jet lag, it's never easy to play the day after. I was sad because I knew I could do better but during the match I was so tired."

Tuesday was one of those frustrating days, due to the unpredictable Auckland weather.


The first match on centre court, between former Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund (Great Britain) and promising Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, scheduled for a midday start, didn't get underway until nearly 4pm after intermittent showers.

The 25-year-old Edmund, who reached a career high of No 14 in October 2018 but has since slipped to No 69, dominated the first set.

He didn't face a single break point, losing only three points on serve, while Davidovich Fokina was constantly under pressure.

The Spanish wildcard, who was ranked outside the top 200 a year ago, rebounded strongly in the second set, and the 20-year-old showed great mental strength to serve out for the set after a prolonged rain delay.

But the experience of Edmund counted in the final set.

He jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and was good enough to retain the advantage, sealing the contest on his third match point, 6-2 4-6 6-3 in 107 minutes.

Meanwhile on the grandstand court Canadian Vasik Pospisil dispatched 2017 Auckland finalist Joao Sousa 6-4 6-2 in 75 minutes.

World No 146 Pospisil had lost four of his five encounters with the Portuguese Sousa (No 58), but looked sharp after coming through two tough qualifying matches, dominant on serve and solid with his return game.