Mahut beats Hewitt in Newport grass-court final

The Assocaited Press

NEWPORT, R.I.

Nicolas Mahut certainly knows a little something about being on court
for a long time. Judging by his smile, it was a lot better feeling this
time.

The 31-year old Frenchman captured the title at the Hall of Fame Tennis
Championships on Sunday, beating Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 5-7, 7-5,
6-3.

Mahut, a 2007 Newport finalist and a wild-card entrant this week, won
his second career ATP title. The other came at `s-Hertogenbosch last
month.

Mahut lost the longest match in tennis history three years ago,
dropping the fifth set to John Isner 70-68 at Wimbledon in a match that
lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes. A display with items used in that match is
located a few hundred yards away in the International Tennis Hall of
Fame.

On Sunday morning, Mahut advanced after beating American Michael
Russell 6-2, 6-2 in just 63 minutes. Mahut needed 2 hours, 19 minutes to
get past Hewitt. Then he had to prepare for a doubles semifinal.

“You guys know I can play a long time, stay a long time on the court,”
he said, breaking into a grin while standing on a rear practice court.
“I would like to tell you I'm not tired. I'm tired, but I have the
trophy in my bag, so I just need to get ready to play one more match.”

In the final set, Mahut broke in the sixth and eighth games to take
control. He won the final point with a drop shot at the net, then
dropped to his knees, putting both hands to his face before bending face
down.

“I was not supposed to play,” he said of gaining a wild-card entry into
the tournament. “I wasn't able to play the (qualifiers). I'm really
grateful to (the tourney director) for the wild card he gave me.”

In the second set, Hewitt led 5-3. Mahut held in the ninth game before
breaking in the 10th, winning the last two points when Hewitt double
faulted.

Earlier in the day, two-time defending champion Isner's run on
Newport's grass court came to an end when he was ousted by No. 4 seed
Hewitt 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

The loss ended 13 straight match wins in Newport for the 28-year old Isner, the highest ranked American at No. 19.

The 32-year old Hewitt, who lost the Newport final to Isner last year, felt the lengthy earlier match affected his play.

“It was a long battle this morning. It was tough on both of us,” he
said. “In the end, I got the better of John. It was going to be tough on
both of us this afternoon.”

Both semifinals were rained out Saturday.

“It's never disappointing losing to a guy like Lleyton Hewitt,
especially on this surface,” said Isner, who called for the trainer
after the first changeover. “I was probably eventually going to lose
this tournament. It just happened a little earlier than I thought or
wanted.”

The 6-foot-10 Isner said he felt pain in his left knee area, similar to
what forced him to retire in his second-round match at Wimbledon last
month.