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Paolo Maldini Ex-AC Milan skipper making it big in tennis at age 49

Paolo Maldini has swapped his football boots for a tennis racket, and will make his debut, aged 48, in a professional tennis event.

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Paolo Maldini has qualified for a professional tennis tournament in Italy after coming through a qualifying competition with his doubles partner Stefano Landonio.

The football legend will play in the Milan Open, which is a second-tier ATP Challenger Event and acts as a second-tier to the World Tour. However, it is still contested by people who have been playing tennis their whole lives.

In comparison, Maldini only picked up a racket after hanging up his boots in 2009, finishing a career in which he played more than 600 times for AC Milan and won a further 126 caps for Italy.

Despite being 48 years old and with a fraction of the experience you would think he needs, Maldini and his doubles partner triumphed at the 'rodeo' competition at the Aspria Harbour Club, earning them a place in the main draw at the upcoming Milan Open.

His athletic prowess appears to have shone through on the court with Landonio telling Il Tennis Italiano: 'We knew we could play well. It was our first competitive tournament, but we previously played some exhibition matches with Paolo for charity activities.

'Having started to play so late, just 5-6 years ago, he struggles a little bit on a technique level.

'Considering what he did in the past, he has amazing mental and physical abilities. Mentally he doesn't struggle in the key moments, he is really strong.'

Maldini's new-found love for tennis has been no secret, with the former Italy captain recently revealing he had taken up boxing for three years before eventually finding the racket.

'I have other interests and business outside of football so I just want to have my own schedule and see what real life is,' he said in 2015. 'I play tennis now. I love it. I did boxing for three years and that was very nice. It's a hard but great, great sport. I really love the training aspect of it.'

He is not the only AC Milan legend to have discovered a new talent post-retirement with Andriy Shevchenko making a professional debut in golf back in 2013. However, the Ukrainian's time at the top was short-lived as he finished 40 shots back from the winner at the Kharkov Superior Cup.

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