Frenchman Nicolas Mahut (above) may only be the 149th ranked player in the world, but he is a throwback tennis player, who returned to court 18 on which he had earlier finished the 11 hour five minute all time record longest match in defeat to John Isner this morning, returned again to court 18 this afternoon with doubles partner Arnaud Clement to play a first round doubles match against the British team of Fleming/Skupski.
Mahut, who was noted by ESPN’s Pam Shriver as having difficulty walking in the player’s restaurant after his warmup hit this morning, has left court 18 for a third consecutive day in a suspended match due to darkness. Mahut/Clement trail Fleming/Skupski 7-6 (4), after one set of play.
To call Mahut the 149th ranked player in the world and to leave it at that would be a disservice to the nifty Frenchman, who has some of the best hands in the game. Mahut has some impressive wins to his name in his career, including a victory over Rafael Nadal at Queen’s Club that helped him reach the finals where he lost to eventual champion Andy Roddick, after winning the first set in 2007. Mahut, an excellent grass courter, defeated Marin Cilic at Queen’s last year, and advanced to the second round of Roland Garros last month, handling young German Mischa Zverev, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Isner’s coach Craig Boynton called Mahut yesterday “one of the top twenty best player’s on grass in the game.” For those of you who like his style–aggressive serve and volley with a dynamic one handed backhand–you may get to see a little of him this summer, as his game is also well suited to American hardcourts.
Those who like his game and are at Wimbledon have had quite a treat this week. In addition to the epic with Isner and being entered in the doubles, Mahut had to come through qualifying last week, winning 3 matches, and coming from 2 sets to none down in the final round of qualifying against Austrian Stefan Koubek. In fact, English tennis fans should know Mahut well, who despite not having advanced past the first round at Wimbledon since 2006, had not been eliminated prior to the round of 16 at Queen’s Club until losing a rematch of last year’s battle with Marin Cilic at Queen’s two weeks ago. We love Mahut’s game, if not the majority of his results, and we totally love him for playing singles and doubles, and today, for keeping his commitment to his doubles partner, Clement.
Some interesting facts from the epic match according to ESPN:
Mahut toweled off 176 times, hit over 750 forehands, and bounced the ball before serving 1,576 times. I wonder if Kuznetsova would have shaken his hand today.
Here’s to a class act.