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Friday, June 1, 2012

Paul-Henri Mathieu (who) gives Isner a taste of his own medicine


‘taste of one’s own medicine’ – may taste bitter !  -  Immediately after the match, both players and the umpire were presented with a crystal bowl and champagne flutes by Tim Henman andAnn Haydon-Jones on behalf of the All England Club, as special recognition of the game. The players were then interviewed on court by John Inverdale, before a photocall for the press alongside one of the two Court 18 scoreboards showing the score.  Days later, the players were jointly awarded the 2010 ESPY Award for "Best Record-Breaking Performance", beating fellow nominees Roger Federer and Usain Bolt. Time magazine named this match one of the Top 10 Sports Moments of 2010.  Are you wondering what it was ? 

Paul-Henri Mathieu has not basked in glory earlier, the player aged 30,  a wild card ranked 261st, thrust both arms into the air, brought his hands to his head and walked forward for a handshake that turned into a partial embrace.  Mathieu was once  France’s brightest prospect and ranked as high as No. 12 in 2008, has had to fight back repeatedly from injuries, most recently from an arthritic left knee that required reconstructive surgery and kept him off tour for 15 months.  He first started hitting balls from a seated position, resumed light on-court training in August and returned to the tour in late January with no official ranking.  Steadfast resoluteness !

If one were to endure in tough times, it requires great mental strength and physical endurance and that is what exactly was on display at Roland Garros – that it came against a man who endured  a record 183 games was the highlight.  Talking about that epic match, the match started on the tournament's second day i.e., on 22.6.2010. After four sets, it was halted due to darkness, with the score at two sets each. Resuming on 23 June, it became the longest match ever. The match was suspended for a second time because of darkness on the evening of June 23 at 59–59 in the fifth set despite chants of "We want more, we want more" from the onlooking spectators.  The stage was Wimbledon and it was - John Robert Isner, who unlike other top Pros didn't decide that he wanted to play professional tennis until he was 21.

Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships is the longest match in tennis history, measured both by time and number of games. In the Gentlemen's Singles tournament first round, the American 23rd seed John Isner defeated the French qualifier Nicolas Mahut after 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games.

Now at Roland Garros,  Paul-Henri  Mathieu stayed out for five hours and 41 minutes to beat American John Isner 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16 in the second round of the French Open.  That too with a broken toe. The Frenchman still cannot train for more than two hours and 30 minutes at a time after being sidelined for 15 months following major reconstructive leg surgery.
the tall Isner with Mathieu
photo courtesy : www.rolandgarros.com

He perhaps made Isner relaise that all marathons do not end the same way !!  - in a much shortened 76 game, that lasted five hour 41 minute test of endurance, Isner lost.  Mathieu was born in Strasbourg, France and reportedly  began playing tennis at age 3.  2002 was Mathieu's breakthrough year. He made the 4th round of the French Open, losing to Andre Agassi in 5 sets, despite having a 2 set lead.   In 2006, Mathieu, lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in a gruelling encounter which lasted 4 hours and 53 minutes, but amazingly only saw 42 games played (Nadal won the match 5–7, 6–4, 6–4, 6–4, with the first set lasting 93 minutes and each of the following sets longer than an hour)

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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