- Ravi Ubha, Tennis
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Even though he lost the longest match in tennis history, Nicolas Mahut came out a winner.
Mahut, 28, made an array of public appearances in his native France, was offered a free holiday to the idyllic island of Mauritius and landed a wild card to this week's Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. In short, he has gone from relative unknown to nearly household name.
ESPN.com caught up with Mahut by phone two weeks after his 11-hour, five-minute encounter at Wimbledon with American John Isner.
ESPN.com: How manic was it between Wimbledon and Newport?
Nicolas Mahut: It was really amazing. I did three days of nonstop media, press conferences, TV shows and photo shoots. Then I stopped and practiced a little bit.
ESPN.com: How surprised were you about all the attention?
Mahut: It was much more than I expected. Everyone wanted me to talk about the match and what I felt on the court. Again, it was really amazing. I don't know what John did in the U.S., but in France it was pretty big.
ESPN.com: How much have you absorbed what's happened? Is it like a dream?
Mahut: Little by little I'm beginning to realize John and I made history with our match. It wasn't only the length, but also the quality, competitiveness and sportsmanship. I think people liked the match. When the Hall of Fame asked if I could donate some items, and also the Wimbledon Museum … I understand we entered tennis history.
ESPN.com: How long did it take to get over the disappointment of not winning?
Mahut: It was complicated. I was truly sad to lose. If I could play like that for such a long time and play well, it was because I wanted to win at all costs. At one point in the match, I felt indestructible. When I lost, it was obviously cruel.
ESPN.com: Both of you were honored on court after the match. How hard was it to remain on court, given that you probably wanted to make a quick exit?
Mahut: I don't remember the ceremony too well. I remembered it through watching it on television. I don't remember if I congratulated John, I don't remember who was on the court. It was very hard. At the same time, I knew I had to do it, had to congratulate John for what he showed over the three days. But it was as if I was elsewhere.
ESPN.com: What was it like for you in the locker room immediately afterward?
Mahut: I cried a lot, but again, I had very little memories of what happened there. My coach was with me, the physio was with me. I was there for one hour. They helped me take a shower. After an hour, I was a little better.
ESPN.com: How long did it take to recover physically?
Mahut: I didn't really feel tired. It was incredible. My body was really weird. It's only now that I've started to feel it. Mostly since the match, I slept between four and six hours, maximum. Since [Tuesday], I started to sleep for eight hours. Now I've started to feel very tired.
ESPN.com: So, only now is it really hitting you?
Mahut: Yes. I'll try to give it everything in Newport, but I know it will be difficult.
ESPN.com: Despite the fatigue, how excited were you to get back on court in Newport?
Mahut: You know, I played the most incredible match of my career against an extraordinary champion in John. But in the end, I had the same ranking because I lost in the first round -- still 140th in the world. My goal is to get back into the top 100, then the top 50. I have no choice but to start to try to win matches. After the tournament, I'm taking two weeks' holiday.
ESPN.com: Where are you going? Anywhere exotic?
Mahut: I think I'll see my dad and friends. I'll spend a week with friends in the Auvergne (central France). There's a big house near a lake. I'll do some water skiing, play golf and just rest.
ESPN.com: What's the biggest compliment you have received?
Mahut: There are a lot of things. It's incredible. In the U.S., every two minutes someone comes up to me and says, "I've never seen anything like that in my life." Also, the minister of sport [in France] congratulated me. Two things have touched me the most. Parents tell me I'm an example for their kids. That touches me enormously. And also the messages I've gotten from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Mats Wilander, saying I was an example for the sport. Coming from legends like that, it means a lot.
ESPN.com: When you step on court now, how is it different?
Mahut: Now I have my duty to kids. When I get on court, I'm obligated to have a positive attitude and give everything of myself. In some ways it is a duty. But I'm sure it will help me in my career.
Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
Nicolas Mahut has been feted like a champion and hailed for setting an example for his sport -- in defeat. The 28-year-old Frenchman discusses his epic Wimbledon match and how it already has changed his life.