TENNIS Fish carries U.S. hope in men's final Sunday

XATHENS, Greece -- Mardy Fish is new to all this: winning matches in the latter stages of a big tournament, closing in on a prestigious title.
So he asked his buddy Andy Roddick for some advice. Whatever the U.S. Open champion told Fish worked, because he's about to play for an Olympic gold medal.
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 Roddick in the third round. In Sunday's final, Fish will play No. 10 Nicolas 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.
In the women's semifinals, Belgium's 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.
Associated Press
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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