NEWPORT, Rhode Island – For Nicolas Mahut, an 11-hour, five-minute Wimbledon epic still isn't over. "Even when I sleep, I'm dreaming about the match," he said of the record-setting battle in which he fell 70-68 to John Isner in the fifth set. "It's a crazy story."
In his dreams, does he win?
"Sometimes," Mahut said Tuesday. "This match is the best moment of my life, and maybe also the worst. It's still really painful. It really is.
"But I'm also pretty proud to be in the Hall of Fame museum," added the Frenchman, who has given a shirt and shoe from his record-setting Wimbledon match to be displayed in the shrine.
He's also in the Hall of Fame tournament, the ATP grasscourt event that coincides with Hall of Fame inductions this week.
Mahut's Wimbledon experience stood him in good stead as he coped with steamy conditions in a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 first-round victory over Colombia's Alejandro Falla.
"Nothing is worse than what I did in Wimbledon. Every match, I pray it will be easier," said Mahut, who was playing his first singles match since Wimbledon. "I can't complain any more."
Mahut needed just 83 minutes to subdue Falla, both players using ice packs on the changeovers to try to stay cool.
"I had no choice. Either you play or you stay in the locker room," Mahut said. "From what I did in Wimbledon, I couldn't come out there and say, 'I can't do it. It's too hot.' Now everything's different."
Mahut broke Falla's serve in the sixth game to take the first set, but dropped his first service game en route to dropping the second set.
It must have sounded good, however, to hear the chair umpire say less than an hour into the match "Final set."
He fell behind love-40 in the opening game of the third set but fought back and took the game with a dropshot winner.
He broke Falla's serve for a 4-2 lead in the set, and when he finished it off he pumped both of his fists before waving to the fans.
"Every two minutes, people come to me to congratulate me. It is an unbelievable feeling," Mahut said of his Newport welcome. "This time it's really different. People are coming up to me. They are really nice. I took all the energy from the people and that's why I won today."
Top-seeded American Sam Querrey advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over compatriot Jesse Levine, and second-seeded Colombian Santiago Giraldo reached the second round with a 7-6 (7/1), 1-7, 6-4 victory over Austrian Alexander Peya.
Ukraine's Sergey Bubka, son of world record pole vaulter and Olympic gold medallist, made his first appearance in an ATP main draw match a winning one with a 7-6, (7/0), 6-4 victory over Australian Chris Guccione.
Bubka, 23, came through qualifying on Monday to book his berth and next faces fourth-seeded Belgian Olivier Rochus.