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U.S. Open: Nicolas Mahut can't make it for long haul in New York

August 28, 2010 |  4:08 pm

Mahut_300 Nicolas Mahut was disappointed Saturday, no hiding his feelings. Because his tennis ranking (161st) wasn't good enough for him to earn a spot in the main draw of the U.S. Open, Mahut was trying to play his way into the tournament, but he couldn't make it through the qualifying tournament, losing to Brazilian Julio Silva, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

You probably remember Mahut for a single match. The 28-year-old Frenchman helped make history when he lost to American John Isner, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68, in an 11-hour and 5 minute first-round Wimbledon match that likely will remain the longest match ever played.

Mahut said he very much wanted to play in the main draw in New York, partly because he had received so much positive response from American fans after the Wimbledon match. "I got so many e-mails from Americans," Mahut said Saturday. "Even in the street here people are recognizing me, even more than in France."

His back has been hurting since Wimbledon, but Mahut said he still wanted to play more here. "It's a big disappointment to lose today," he said. "I really wanted to play here even if I wasn't 100 percent. But to win three in a row in qualifying is difficult, especially since I can't push hard with my legs when I serve."

Isner also is not in good physical shape. He sprained his ankle at the Cincinnati tournament last week. He's still in the draw but it's doubtful he can be close to top shape.

Mahut will be in the U.S. Open doubles draw with fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement. Mahut said he would watch Isner's match. "I haven't spoken to him since Wimbledon," he said. Mahut also said he's not surprised that both he and Isner have had injury trouble. "That was very hard on us at Wimbledon," he said. "It's hard to recover."

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York

Photo: Nicolas Mahut returns a shot in a qualifying win over Matthew Ebden of Australia on Thursday. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

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