'They let me play': Tennis world stunned by fresh virus debacle

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Beniot Piaire, pictured here leaving the court after losing at the Hamburg Open.
Beniot Piaire leaves the court after losing at the Hamburg Open. (Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Benoit Paire says he was allowed to play at the Hamburg Open on Wednesday despite testing positive for COVID-19.

The Frenchman, who caused a storm at the US Open last month when he was forced to pull out of the grand slam after testing positive, said he returned a positive test again on his arrival in Germany but was told he was no longer contagious.

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Paire played Norwegian Casper Ruud in his first round match but retired in the second set when he was down 6-4 2-0.

“When I arrived, the test came back positive again,” Paire, who also played in the Rome Masters last week, told reporters.

“I can't take it anymore, I'm breaking.

“And then I'm told, in Germany, if you are positive and have already completed the quarantine (period), they no longer test the players because even if you catch it again, you are no longer contagious.

“The rule is different here in Germany and I say ‘thank you’ to the doctor and to the tournament, they let me play.

“In Paris, some are negative but since the coach tested positive, they cannot play. Here, in Germany, you test positive and you can still play.”

Tennis commentators and fans were left in shock that Paire had been allowed to play.

Benoit Paire fears for French Open participation

Six players in the French Open men’s and women’s qualifying draw were withdrawn this week after either testing positive for COVID-19 or after coming in close contact with a coach who tested positive.

Paire added that he fears he will be withdrawn from the French Open after a doctor in France told him there was a 50 per cent chance he would test positive when he arrives in Paris.

“The problem is that I am tired,” a clearly frustrated Paire told reporters.

“I had a positive COVID (test) at the US Open, 10 days in my room, then I had to go to Rome, I played, but I didn’t practise at all. Then I arrived here with positive COVID-19.”

The Frenchman said the only symptoms he has felt are fatigue, but “I am not sure if it’s the virus or just having to stay in the room for 10 days (at the US Open).”

“You practise for one hour, then go back to your room. Mentally, it's difficult - honestly if it stays like this, I just want to stop.

Benoit Paire, pictured here in action against Casper Ruud at the Hamburg Open.
Benoit Paire in action against Casper Ruud at the Hamburg Open. (Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

“It depends on the results of the (next) test, if it’s negative, I play, if it’s positive, I don’t play and I go home - both solutions are good. I can see my family and dog.

“If it's negative, I will be on court and try to do my best - but it will not be my best for sure.

“The only thing I want is the end of the season and to go home to practise. I hope next season will be normal.”

The French Open begins on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Greek second-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas needed just 59 minutes to beat Britain's Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-1 and set up a second-round clash with Pablo Cuevas.

“It’s very satisfying to be playing that level of tennis, as I’ve missed playing on clay,” Tsitsipas, ranked sixth in the world, said in a courtside interview.

Chile's Cristian Garin is also into the quarter-finals after defeating German wildcard Yannick Hanfmann, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).

with agencies