Unknown Americansadvance to semifinals
XATHENS, Greece -- So, just as casual tennis fans might have expected, two American men reached the Olympic semifinals, guaranteeing a medal.
Uh, no, not Andy Roddick, who lost early. Or Andre Agassi, who didn't enter.
Instead, it's Mardy Fish and Taylor Dent, two up-and-coming, unseeded players excited about a chance to shine -- and playing superbly.
Fish reached the medal round by beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-3, 6-4 Thursday night, while Dent was a 6-4, 6-1 winner against the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych, the 18-year-old who knocked off No. 1 Roger Federer.
"It's right there in front of me. I keep saying to myself, 'This is your time, hopefully,' " Fish said. "I'm trying to bluff myself through it."
Today's semifinals were both United States vs. Chile: Dent played No. 10 Nicolas Massu, and Fish played No. 16 Fernando Gonzalez, who upset Roddick in the third round.
Fish and Dent are the U.S. tennis team's only chances for a medal.
Martina Navratilova's last hurrah as an Olympic rookie at 47 ended Thursday night when she and Lisa Raymond lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to Shinobu Asagoe and Ai Sugiyama of Japan in the quarterfinals, one step shy of the medal round.
"This was never a dream of mine when I was growing up. It was a bonus I was able to be here," Navratilova said. "It's disappointing, of course. We were hoping to get a medal. But the end of a dream? No. I am living my dream."
The women's singles semifinals today 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.
Not too many surprises in that bunch, unlike the quartet of men's semifinalists.
Dent, 23, and Fish, 22, both have the chance to do more than win a medal. They could build up a store of confidence that could change their careers.
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