Nicolas Mahut won twice on Sunday to raise the trophy at Newport. He notched his second title of the season, and of his career. Both came on grass.
Nicolas Mahut had a particularly charged and fruitful [last] Sunday at Newport. A victim of the weather on Saturday, the American tournament had to shut its doors and resort to playing the semi-finals and finals both on Sunday. After having settled up with American Michael Russell 6-2, 6-2 in the morning, the Frenchman finished the job by beating Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the 2012 finalist, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. Three weeks after s-Hertogenbosch, the world #127 then honored his wildcard invitation to Rhode Island by grabbing a second career title, again on the green lawns. He’s the second French player to win the ATP 250 tournament, after Fabrice Santoro did it in 2007 and 2008. In a little wink at history, he [Mahut] was the unhappy finalist in 2007.
The final was rich in drama. Hewitt, who proved to be the more solid in the important moments to grab the first set, served for the match at 5-4 in the second, but the Frenchman broke back, then won two more games in a row to make it a set apiece. Breaking again at 3-1 in the final set, Mahut quickly evened it to 3-3, causing the former world #1 to throw his racquet in frustration. In the end, Mahut won 5 games at a trot to turn the match definitively in his favor.
Thanks to his recent newfound success, gained here after a 2-hour 19-minute battle, the 31-year-old from Angers will go up fifty places in the rankings, which will get him into the main draw of the upcoming US Open (26 August – 9 September.) ”When you get to a final, anything can happen; I still can’t believe it,” exclaimed Mahut. ”A month ago, I was playing to get to the qualifying rounds at the US Open. I was 240th in the world with few points to defend. I knew I’d have to play well on grass to get there, and one month later, I have two titles in my pocket.”
On the evening that he lost the doubles final at Roland Garros with [partner] Michael Llodra, Mahut regretted that all the big moments in his career ended in defeat. Not anymore.