Fish and Massu in men’s tennis final; Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo in women’s


ATHENS, Greece, AP

Mardy Fish and Nicolas Massu: not the two guys expected to be playing for a gold medal in the Olympic tennis tournament Sunday.

The unseeded Fish came back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 semifinal victory Friday over No. 16 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, who upset U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick in the third round.

Fish will play No. 10 Massu, a 7-6 (5), 6-1 winner against Taylor Dent in another U.S.-Chile match.

The women’s gold medal match has a far more predictable flavor: No. 1 Justine Henin Hardenne vs. No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo.

“I didn’t expect to be here, so I don’t have anything to lose,” Fish said, “and I’m sure Nicolas would say the same thing. There’s less pressure on both of us.”

Neither has been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament or been ranked in the top 10. Fish has won only one event, at Stockholm last year; Massu’s four career titles all came on clay.

Their matchup makes for a fitting finish to a men’s tournament in which No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Roddick lost early.

“I’m sure we’ll be nervous in the beginning. I’m sure whoever pulls it out in the end will be nervous,” the 22nd-ranked Fish said. “At the end of the day, I think I can settle for a silver medal, but I definitely want the gold.”

He can only hope he doesn’t have to work as hard as Croatia’s Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic did to win their bronze medal in doubles. They outlasted fifth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India 7-6 (5), 4-6, 16-14 in a match that lasted nearly four hours and ended at 1:05 a.m. local time (1005 GMT).

Chile’s never won a gold medal in any sport at any Olympics, and the nation could win three in tennis in one weekend: Massu and Gonzalez will play in Saturday’s doubles final against Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler of Germany. That will be after Gonzalez vs. Dent for the singles bronze.

“I’m living a dream,” Massu said.

In the women’s semifinals, Henin-Hardenne of Belgium rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the third set to beat Russia’s Anastasia Myskina 7-5, 5-7, 8-6 in a nearly three hour match between the past two French Open champions. France’s Mauresmo advanced by defeating unseeded Australian Alicia Molik 7-6 (8), 6-3.

“I’m really, really upset,” said Myskina, a blue cap pulled low over her eyes. “If you’re up 5-1, you have to finish the match, no matter what.”

Out with a viral illness, Henin Hardenne hadn’t played since she lost in the second round at Roland Garros in May while trying to defend that title. “In the third set, I was tired, for sure,” Henin-Hardenne said. “I had given everything I had, physically and mentally.”

In the women’s doubles semifinals, Li Ting and Sun Tian Tian of China beat Paola Suarez and Patricia Tarabini of Argentina 6-2, 2-6, 9-7, guaranteeing China its first Olympic tennis medal.

Li and Sun face No. 2 Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain for the gold Sunday. The Spaniards were 6-3, 6-0 winners over No. 5 Shinobu Asagoe and Ai Sugiyama of Japan.