Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Greatest Match Ever

Nicolas Mahut was the loser, but no one who has a casual interest in sports will ever forget him.

The unseeded Frenchman said it in the aftermath of the longest tennis match in history: "We played the greatest match ever."

More than 11 hours, stretched over 3 days, before John Isner finally hit the winner that broke Mahut's serve and gave Isner a 70-68 win in the 5th set of their match at Wimbledon.

Isner couldn't have been more gracious in victory. But it's Mahut who gives us all something to cheer. Why? Because he had to hold serve 65 times as the epic dragged on. His back was against the wall for hours on end, and yet he dug down to a place most of us can't even imagine and found will, resolve, and calm.

You had to feel for Mahut as the Wimbledon people and the media made an event of the match. He was forced to pose for photos and accept gifts in honor of the match, all while he was surely replaying those unforced errors that kept him from playing on.

Yet the same well of strength that got him through all those hours on Court 18 provided him with the grace to get through the aftermath. As he French often say in honor of a valiant effort, "chapeau, monsieur."

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