Net Gains: Marathon men Isner and Mahut are now the best of friends

By Paul Newman

No prizes for guessing the first person John Isner bumped into when he walked into the US Open locker room this week. The American might have been expected to be sick and tired of seeing Nicolas Mahut, the Frenchman with whom he created history in their record-breaking 11-hour match at Wimbledon, but they were delighted to meet up again. "We did the handshake, high-five thing," Isner said. "We sat and talked for about five minutes and ever since then I keep running into him in the locker room and we talk. I talk to his coaches, he talks to my coach. We're definitely good friends now." The two men have stayed in touch by email since their historic match on Court 18 at the All England Club, which ended with Isner winning 70-68 in the final set. "This is maybe a match we will talk about during the next 20 years," Mahut said. "Maybe more." Mahut, who had played in a tournament in Newport immediately after Wimbledon, failed to qualify for the singles here and went out in the first round of the doubles. Isner, who gave himself more time to recover from his exertions, is through to the third round of the singles, in which he faces Mikhail Youzhny.

Serena's all cut up

Serena Williams is not competing here but remains a major topic of conversation. The world No 1 has not played since having surgery on her right foot after cutting it on broken glass when leaving a restaurant in Munich two months ago.

Kim Clijsters is one of the only players to have seen Williams's injuries – they played in an exhibition event in Brussels after the accident – and insists that "it's not something that she's making up or that it's a small cut or anything". Clijsters said Williams had cuts on both feet though, strangely, the Belgian could not recall whether they were on the top or bottom. Williams herself told USA Today last week that she had had surgery to repair a lacerated tendon on the top of her right foot a week after receiving 12 stitches in one foot and six in another.

Clijsters points the way

Clijsters clearly set a trend with her comeback here last year. Croatia's Mirjana Lucic last week made her first appearance at the US Open for eight years, while Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm played in the main draw here for the first time since 1996. Lucic, 28, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1999, is rebuilding her career after a difficult period in her life. She is now estranged from her abusive father. Date Krumm, 40, has returned after 12 years in retirement.

Signs of another Agassi

With multiple Grand Slam champions as her parents, six-year-old Jaz Agassi could be a player to watch. Andre Agassi revealed here last week that she is already playing tennis twice a week, though neither Agassi nor his wife, Steffi Graf, has any intention of becoming a pushy parent. Agassi sounded relieved when he talked about his eight-year-old son, Jaden. "He shows great desire, commitment and talent – for baseball," Agassi said.


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