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Tennis Eleven Players • AKA Paire’s Close Contacts • Playing at 2020 U.S. Open Despite Plenty of Controversy

Benoit Paire

By Ricky Dimon

The Benoit Paire 11? The Flushing 11? Those sound like band names of some sort. But they work!

Whatever you want to call them, 11 people are thought to have come into close contact with Paire inside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center bubble. 

“What’s so bad about coming into contact with Paire,” you might ask–if you have been living under a rock the past 24 hours. The Frenchman is an entertaining bloke who seems like a perfectly logical person to hang out with and have fun. Well, there is just one minor detail–one that is unique to the times of 2020. Paire tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. 

Paire was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open as a result, and per the rules during the Western & Southern Open (which was also held in New York) all those who came in close contact with him would also have to withdraw. After all, Guido Pella and Hugo Dellien were not allowed to play “Cincinnati” ( New York)  because their physio tested positive.

Nonetheless, there appear to be different standards for this Grand Slam. And as result, controversy is swirling. The 11 people who have been Paire’s circle are allowed to continue playing. Of those 11, five have surfaced. We know all 11. 

Kristina Mladenovic announced said so herself at a press conference after winning her first-round match against Hailey Baptiste.

Kristina Mladenovic

“I had the misfortune to play cards one night with Benoit,” the Frenchwoman explained. “I find myself being escorted everywhere. I am not entitled to anything. I am mentally washed out. I am devastated for Benoit, of course. It is really difficult. for me to accept this thing because it’s not like I’m in his close entourage. I feel very sorry and bad for him so I try to stay positive. I have been tested twice since and I’m still negative. I hope I will stay like this.

“For three days I have found myself having access to absolutely nothing, being escorted everywhere,” she added. “I just have the right to be in my room.”

Adrian Mannarino also confirmed at his post-match press conference that he is one of the 11 who must now follow more strict protocols.

Adrian Mannarino

“I haven’t slept too much,” the Frenchman admitted. “I’m mentally exhausted. We created a WhatsApp group of French players, including Benoit. He’s fine; he has no symptoms. We’re supporting each other.

“We are not in a bubble; we are in a ‘secure environment. But employees are going home to sleep. Benoit was unlucky because he tested negative several times (before testing positive). The new protocols are strict. We are not even allowed in elevators.”

The French newspaper L’Equipe revealed three other members of the notorious 11: Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Richard Gasquet, and Gregoire Barrere.

Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Richard Gasquet
Gregoire Barrere

Rumors are circulating that Daniil Medvedev is also involved, as he was mentioned by Alexander Zverev after the German beat Kevin Anderson. However his coach Gilles Cervara denied those reports.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • The other players are all also suffering. They literally are stuck in their rooms. No outside contact. They’ve had to sign new non disclosure letters ? They must take the stairs in the hotels (some 7 flights). They come in through the back of the building. The bubbles weren’t and aren’t bubbles. Not for example when civilian guests are staying at players hotels and having wedding parties. BALLS BOUNCE• BUBBLES BURST ! (LJ) 

Last Note: Brett Haber took to Twitter with this…