AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini competes in his first ever professional tennis match

AC Milan and Italy football legend Paolo Maldini has hit the tennis courts as a professional at the tender age of 49.

Forming a doubles partnership with Stefano Landonio, who was once ranked 975th in the world, Maldini entered into the Milan ATP Challenger Tour – which is only one step below the ATP World Tour.

In the Aspria Tennis Cup, however, Maldini lost in the opening round to Tomasz Bednarek and David Pel 6-1, 6-1 in just 42 minutes.

Maldini, who was known for his strength, passing ability and spectacular tactical awareness on the football pitch, seemed to be lacking all three in his second sport.

He appeared to find it difficult to deal with the intensity of the professional standard. Just 40 seconds into a highlights video of the match – which you can watch below – he failed to successfully return what appeared to be a fairly straightforward serve for the majority of pros, looping the ball out of the court.

Indeed, the return of serve proved to be Maldini’s Achilles heel throughout.

It wasn’t all bad for the 49-year-old, however. He did pull of some great winners at the net to secure his and Landonio’s first game of the match – skip to 4:50.

In one of the longest rallies of the tie (6:18) Maldini and his partner look to have the upper hand with both opponents at the back of the court, only for the Italian to produce a poor lob to give a simple winning smash. 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=duw_AQ8DvKc%3Fecver%3D2

Not quite Wimbledon standard, is it?

After the match, Maldini admitted that he doubts he will enter into another pro tour after what appeared to be a failure on his part.

“Other Italian Challenger events contacted me offering a wild card,” he said, as per Tennis World USA.

“Instead this experience will be the only one at this level. A beautiful experience that I enjoyed a lot but that won’t happen again.”

Landonio, however, thought the game went well, especially considering that Maldini picked up a small injury.

“It’s a pity that Paolo got injured.

“He needs to start slowly, and instead the first point of the match was hard and it influenced him.

“Anyway it went very well, we could have won more games as several of them were played on 40-all.”

Indeed, for a first ever professional tournament match, Maldini did pull off some audacious shots, despite looking short of skill for the most part.

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