On Wednesday, Benoit Paire trailed Casper Ruud, 6-4, 2-0, in a first-round match at the Hamburg European Open when he could no longer continue. His stoppage wasn't necessarily shocking, but information that came out later raised more questions about the aftereffects of COVID-19 and consistency of tournament protocols.
The Frenchman, who tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the US Open on August 28 and was subsequently withdrawn from the hard-court major in New York, arrived in Germany from Rome, where he notably went off in a 6-2, 6-1 first-round loss to Jannik Sinner. He later played a pair of doubles matches with compatriot Nicolas Mahut.
But when Paire turned up for his first test in Hamburg, it once again registered positive for COVID-19. The current No. 25 revealed the surprising bit of news with press following his retirement against Ruud, He also shared that in self-isolating once again, he only hit the practice court for one hour before attempting to play his match.
"When I arrived, the test came back positive again. I can't take it anymore, I'm breaking," he said. "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.
"I was negative after the US Open, negative in France, negative in Rome and then positive in Hamburg. That's all I know."
In a statement released following Paire's press conference, Hamburg officials explained why the 31-year-old was permitted to remain in the event.
"According to tournament doctor Dr. Volker Carrero, it is not uncommon that three weeks after a positive result, fragments of the virus can still be found inside the body," it read. "Paire has not shown any symptoms of disease and has not been contagious at any time. Local health authorities in Hamburg made the decision on Saturday that Paire is allowed to play."
Paire's home Grand Slam tournament, Roland Garros, begins on Sunday. Five players were already withdrawn from qualifying Monday as a result of positive coronavirus tests.
"The rules seem different here. The ATP has to explain what the rules are," implored Paire. "In Paris right now, players are testing negative, but because the coach is positive, they cannot play.
"Here in Germany, you test positive and can play. So again thank you to the tournament and the doctor here in Hamburg for letting me play. There are some rules I obviously don't understand too much."