“Very bad. I feel pain everywhere in my body, especially my back, hips. It’s not a good time to play tennis.”
This is how Nicolas Mahut describes his current state of health in the wake of his historic 11-hour/5-minute loss to
John Isner at Wimbledon. It’s been two months since the three-day epic on Court 18 at the All England Club, but the Frenchman says he’s still recovering.
“My body just says, ‘I don’t want to play tennis anymore, so give me a rest, give me a break.’ I just really wanted to play here at the U.S. Open, the last Slam of the season, in front of the American people,” said Mahut moments after he and teammate Arnaud Clement lost in the opening round of the doubles to Mahesh Bhupathi/Max Mirnyi. “But the fact is, I wasn’t ready.”
Maybe that’s why he wasn’t offered a wildcard into the main-draw singles (he fell in the qualifying rounds).
Mahut played Newport (where he donated his shirt, shorts and a shoe from the 70-68-in-the-fifth match to the International Tennis Hall of Fame) the week after Wimbledon, but says he felt a tear in his back in the second-round. Since then, despite free-and-clear MRIs, he hasn’t been the same player. But that doesn’t alter his memories of his record-setting match.
“Of course I have some good feeling about it,” said Mahut, who had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t attend the ESPYs, where Isner accepted an award for Best Record-Breaking Performance. “This may be the match we talk about during the next 20 years, maybe more. It was more than a tennis match.”
Mahut says he stays in touch with Isner via e-mail. Lots of them. But he’s not revealing any content.
“This is just between us.”