Somehow, somewhere, Nicolas Massu summoned the strength and the shots to win his second gold of these Olympics.
That's twice as many medals as the entire star-studded U.S. tennis team managed.
Doing everything he could to buy time and beat exhaustion, Chile's Massu got past American Mardy Fish 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an error-strewn men's
singles final Sunday night that went four hours.
Chile had never won a gold medal in any sport until Massu and Fernando Gonzalez won the doubles title in a match that lasted more than 3½ hours and
ended in the wee hours Sunday morning.
Gonzalez won the singles bronze, beating Taylor Dent of the United States. So the unheralded, unseeded Fish's silver is the only tennis medal for a
squad that included Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and Martina Navratilova.
Massu broke to begin the fifth set, and he didn't have to do much work. Fish put a volley into the net, a backhand into the net, sent a lazy
half-volley wide, then sailed a backhand long. In the next game, Fish missed another backhand, reared back and smashed his racket to the court,
drawing a warning.
All makable shots. All missed. Hardly glamorous tennis.
Then again, well, it was hardly a glamorous matchup, which perhaps is why the 8,000-seat center court was about half-empty by the last set.
Neither finalist has ever been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament nor been ranked in the top 10. They entered Sunday with a combined
total of five career titles, just one for Fish.
Indeed, it's the first time Massu has won a tournament played on hard courts. He was 0-7 this year on the surface before winning six straight singles
matches at the Olympics.
But No. 1 Roger Federer lost in the second round, and No. 2 Roddick -- cheering for his buddy Fish in the stands Sunday -- lost in the third. Half of
the top 10, including Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, didn't even enter the tournament because of injuries or other reasons.