Someone had to win. Cruel, unfair… yes. But eventually the longest tennis match ever was going to end.
I’ve got to say, these guys looked incredibly fresh coming out of the gates, considering. Were this the start of any other match, I would have been a bit curious, but both had their serves working, and both definitely had all the pieces clicking. Perhaps it’s most fitting that the match came to end in one of the cruelest ways to be broken: after wasting an opportunity.
Fast forward to 68-68. An error from Tree, and a massive forehand winner from Mahut at the centre of the court gives him 0-30. The crowd starts getting louder. Tree takes his time. There’s a serious buzz in the air. Tree then promptly steps to the line to fire his 112th ace. A 135mp/h shot down the tee. Some players rarely serve around that speed, let alone entering the eleventh hour of a match.
Another unreturnable, and more big serving get Tree those precious four points in a row to hold. 68-69. That means a changeover, silly!
And so Mahut was forced to sit down and think about the wasted opportunity. And that’s when the match entered it’s metaphorical and literal eleventh hour.
It was going to be a mental lapse, it had to be. For Mahut, it was a botched drop shot at 15-15 that would have been a winner even if it was the worst drop shot he had ever played. Tree was badly out of position behind the baseline and falling over. Instead he rushed it, and plopped it into the net. A massive winner from Tree gave him match point, and he didn’t waste it, firing a cross-court winner past Mahut at the net.
“The guy is an absolute warrior. It stinks someone had to lose. To be able to share this day with him was an absolute honor.”
Warm fuzzies. I’ve always been a Tree fan, I think it’s pretty obvious in my writing (and Twitter feed). He just seems like a solid, likable guy. I also like his game. He’s a big server, sure, but there’s other aspects to his game. He’s also able to do one of my most favourite of things, in smacking a huge serve that’s returned halfway, and then stepping up and hammering it for a forehand winner.
Does he have a chance for the rest of the tournament? Who knows. He’s been holding serve for more than 80 games in a row now.