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Tennis: Fish avenges Roddick's defeat

Nicolas Massu beat Taylor Dent of the United States 7-6 (5), 6-1 Friday in the men's tennis semifinals to move within one victory of giving Chile its first Olympic gold medal in any sport.

In the other Olympic semifinal, Mardy Fish, an unseeded American, beat another Chilean, No.16 Fernando Gonzalez, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Gonzalez had pulled off a third-round upset of Fish's teammate and buddy, Andy Roddick, who was in the stands rooting.

Fish and Massu will meet Sunday in the gold medal match.

"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 no pressure on either of us.

" It's by far the best showing by Fish or Massu at any big tournament: Neither has ever been past the third round at a Grand Slam.

Massu's four career titles have all come on clay, while Fish's lone triumph came at Stockholm last year.

That makes for a fitting finish to an Olympic tournament in which No.1 Roger Federer, No. 2 Roddick, and No. 4 Tim Henman were all eliminated by the third round.

Chile's total tennis medal count before the Athens Games was zero.

The nation is assured of at least two now, because Massu and Gonzalez reached Saturday's doubles final against Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler of Germany.

Fish and Dent, meanwhile, were the U.S. tennis team's last chances for a medal.

And it's the first time no U.S. woman will leave an Olympic tennis tournament with a prize.

The women's singles semifinals later Friday were No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium vs. No.3 Anastasia Myskina of Russia, and No.2 Amelie Mauresmo of France vs. Alicia Molik of Australia.

In the doubles semifinals, No.8 Li Ting and Sun Tian Tian of China beat No. 7 Paola Suarez and Patricia Tarabini of Argentina 6-2, 2-6, 9-7, guaranteeing China its first tennis medal at an Olympics.

Li and Sun, who beat Venus Williams and Chanda Rubin in the first round, will face No.2 Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain or No.5 Shinobu Asagoe and Ai Sugiyama of Japan for the gold Sunday.

Fish looked lost midway through the first set, dropping four straight games and showing his frustration by smashing his racket to the court or using it to bonk himself on the head or knee.

But on the first point at 2-2 in the second set, Gonzalez turned his right ankle while chasing a ball.

He needed a medical timeout while a trainer wrapped the injury.

Fish finally gained control in the ninth game, breaking Gonzalez for a 5-4 lead.

The American, who's ranked 22nd, then served it out.

After the last point, he sank to his knees and bowed on court, then rose and flashed a thumb's up in Roddick's direction.

"I've been waiting for this sort of performance from him at a huge event," U.S. coach Patrick McEnroe said.

"I've been waiting for him to do this at a Slam, and it's just as big here.

" Massu and Dent looked like teammates up at the net for the prematch coin toss, both wearing red shirts and dark shorts with white racing stripes.

The only thing to distinguish Massu was his white baseball cap and long ponytail.

Little separated them at the start of play, either.

There were no breaks of serve in the first set, and Massu took the tiebreaker by finally getting the measure on his passing shots.

The Chilean converted his second set point with a fantastic return at Dent's feet, drawing an awkward volley that sailed long.

Massu then rolled through the second set, opening a 5-0 lead.