PARIS (AP) – Nicolas Mahut spent three days on the court in the longest game in tennis history, but even an hour of easy training was a challenge for him on Wednesday.
This is because after many weeks at home he returned to practice in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The ban, which began in France on March 17, ended on Monday, leaving Mahut and other professionals cautiously on trial again.
Mahut exchanged shots of different speed and accuracy with practice partner Grégoire Barrère.
“It feels good to play tennis again. Everyone had missed it; The players, the coaches, ”said Mahut after the session at a training center near the French Open site at Roland Garros.
“The big risk is getting hurt,” Mahut said. “We played leisurely for an hour and there is already some pain.”
For Mahut and many other athletes, this was a dismissal like no other.
“What’s different is that this isn’t even like an injury. Everyone had an injury and was five or six months away from the racetrack. But that was a different feeling,” he said. “We weren’t on vacation – far away from it for all people who were locked up – and we weren’t injured. It was a very complex situation. “
What also felt strange were the many new mandatory measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 – for example, not sitting in a chair, using balls other than your opponent, and having the power cord on after wearing gloves Disinfectant wipe session.
“Hopefully we can get back to normal training conditions quickly,” said Mahut. “But you have to respect the rules … We are lucky enough to play again.”
The 38-year-old Mahut won majors as a doubles player, but is probably best known for his painful loss to John Isner 70-68 in 2010’s fifth set at Wimbledon, the longest game in history.
They played 11 hours and 5 minutes in a match with 168 consecutive serves and a total of 216 aces.
But getting an ace against Barrère was a struggle.
“You don’t lose the feel of the racket or very little,” said Mahut. “What is really difficult is to serve, your feet are heavy. We have to wait a while until we reach the highest level again.”
He hopes this will be with Roland Garros, a few hundred meters away in the west of Paris. The clay court tournament was scheduled to start on May 24 and was then postponed to September 20 due to the virus.
“My optimistic side tells me that we will play at Roland Garros,” said Mahut. “But my more realistic side tells me that it could be a very complicated (no) game season.”
There have been countless opinions about when tennis can be resumed even without fans.
“What is certain is that we cannot play again if there is a risk of contamination,” said Mahut. “Is it an option to play without fans? I really do not know it. I don’t think it’s the right time to debate who is right and who is wrong. “
Dr. Bernard Montalvan, wearing a blue face mask, oversaw Mahut and Barrère.
It helps French tennis players get back into training, and Mahut and Barrère are expected to be tested for the virus shortly.
But Montalvan believes that tennis may have to wait for a vaccine before it gets back to normal.
“I can’t tell when the vaccine will be ready, probably not for long,” he said. “We’ll see what the guidelines are, but I can imagine that professional tennis will resume before a vaccine is validated.”