Mal­dini hits the net in fail­ure

Former foot­baller loses his first pro match as a tennis player

The National - News - Sport - - LEADINGOFF -

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.”

Marco Ber­torello / AFP

Former foot­baller Paolo Mal­dini, right.

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