Maldini hits the net in failure
Former footballer loses his first pro match as a tennis player
Former Italy and AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini’s professional tennis career is likely to stop at one match after a debut he described as “like writing a poem after studying years of maths”.
The 49-year-old, who only took up tennis about six years ago, acquitted himself well, but he and his partner, Stefano Landonio, were well beaten, 6-1, 6-1 by Poland’s Tomasz Bednarek and Dutchman David Pel in the first round of the Aspria Tennis Cup in Milan.
“It was like writing a poem after studying years of maths,” said Maldini, whose appearance secured more attention than is customary for a Challenger Tour event.
“We tried to enjoy the moment, also because I didn’t expect I’d be able to experience something like this at the age of 49. Ironically, on the very first point of the match I pulled a muscle.
“It was a unique and unrepeatable experience, I have lived it as a game and there will be no other experience like this. We could have played better on a few points, but no problem. It could have ended 6-0, 6-3, we lost 6-1, 6-1 and that’s fine.” Maldini and Landonio, who once held a world ranking of 975, were totally outplayed by 35-year-old Bednarek, a former top 50 player in doubles, and the 25-year-old Pel, who is ranked just outside the top 200.
“I want it to be clear, it’s only for fun, because I’m a member of this club and Stefano works here,” said Maldini, one of Italy’s greatest footballers.
“I had to take it easy, especially at my age. You can be a little bit nervous, because you are doing something that is not yours. But since you’ve been a good player in another sport, you know what to expect.
“[But] those who know professional sport know very well that it’s impossible to invent yourself as a professional from one day to the next. This is something I know very well.”
Former footballer Paolo Maldini, right.