The Paire 11: Who they are, and what they can and can’t do at the US Open
The 11 players who were in close contact with Benoit Paire are still allowed to play in the US Open despite Paire’s positive coronavirus test.
Benoit Paire tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, and that has continued to be the talk of the tennis world through the first day of main-draw action at the US Open. Since the USTA’s announcement that “an individual” tested positive, we have not only learned that the person in question is Paire but also that he had been in close contact with 11 other players.
“The Paire 11” — as they are infamously being called — have remained in the tournament, albeit with some extra restrictions.
Who are they?
So far we know the identities of five of the 11 competitors.
Kristina Mladenovic: The Frenchwoman announced it herself at a press conference after winning her first-round match against Hailey Baptiste.
“I had the misfortune to play cards one night with Benoit,” she 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. “
Adrian Mannarino: Like Mladenovic, Mannarino also confirmed at his post-match press conference that he is one of 11 players who must now follow more strict protocols inside the bubble after being in contact with Paire.
“I haven’t slept too much,” he explained. “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.”
Edouard Roger-Vasselin: The veteran Frenchman confirmed his status as one of the Paire 11 while speaking to the French newspaper L’Equipe. Roger-Vasselin is competing in men’s doubles.
Richard Gasquet: According to L’Equipe, the world No. 50 is also part of the group. He was seen in Nicolas Massu’s Instagram story playing FIFA alongside Paire.
Gregoire Barrere: Another Frenchman, another member of the Paire 11…. This is also according to L’Equipe.
Rumors are circulating that Daniil Medvedev is also involved, as he was mentioned by Alexander Zverev after the German won his first-round contest against Kevin Anderson. However, Gilles Cervara — the French coach of Medvedev — denied such reports. Zverev went on to criticize US Open tournament organizers.
What protocols must the Paire 11 follow?
At their respective press conferences, Mladenovic and Mannarino provided details regarding what they can and cannot do inside the US Open bubble at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The bad news for them is that restrictions are tight. The good news is that they are at least allowed to continue competing in the tournament.
“For three days I have found myself having access to absolutely nothing, being escorted everywhere,” Mladenovic said. “I just have the right to be in my room.”
“We are not in a bubble; we are in a ‘secure environment,’” Mannarino suggested. “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.”
As reported by L’Equipe, Roger-Vasselin said that he has to eat in his own room and that he no longer has access to common areas.