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Old foes Isner and Mahut inspire Hopman Cup wins

By Simon Cambers

PERTH (Reuters) - American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, whose names entered the record books together at Wimbledon last year, helped their teams to victories in the Hopman Cup on Wednesday.

The two men played a record-breaking, 11-hour-five-minute match at Wimbledon last year and have since become good friends.

Isner showed he had endurance to match the speed of his serve as he came from 3-1 down to beat Potito Starace 7-6 4-6 6-4 and help the U.S. to beat Italy 2-1 in the mixed-team Hopman Cup.

Mahut bounced back from the loss of his singles to world number four Andy Murray with an inspirational performance in the mixed doubles as France defeated Britain by the same score.

Isner and Mahut will always be remembered for their Wimbledon encounter.

"We've become really good friends," Isner said. "Honestly, before Wimbledon, you can ask him, we'd never said one word to each other. Now we text with each other quite often and I've gotten to know that he's a really class act and a really good guy."

Isner, six feet nine inches tall, struggled in the hot and humid conditions in the Burswood Dome but bounced back from a loss of concentration at the start of the third set to win.

"I am really happy to win a match like that," he said. "I'd rather win losing my serve three times than win a match without losing my serve. It shows my returns are not too bad."

Mahut pushed Murray hard, getting two set points in the first set and another in the second but the Scot found his game when he needed it to clinch victory.

The French, who had taken the lead when Kristina Mladenovic beat Laura Robson 6-4 3-6 6-0, then outplayed the Britons in the mixed doubles to clinch victory

(Editing by Clare Fallon)