Massu Denies Gold Fish in Athens Olympics Tennis

Posted on August 23, 2004

Mardy Fish launched into a foul-mouthed tirade in the fifth set of the gold medal match Sunday at the Athens Olympics, causing a mental meltdown that cost the American the match 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 against an exhausted Nicolas Massu of Chile.

Massu's superhuman effort, after a long five-set doubles match roughly 12 hours earlier, was aided by a host of errors from Fish who was expected to overwhelm the spent Chilean.

Adding to Massu's unbelievable run was the fact he entered the Olympics with an 0-7 record on hardcourt in 2004.

"The best two days of my life," said Massu, who didn't get to sleep until 6:30 a.m. that morning after drug testing and a massage. "That's it. It's just amazing."

Massu took the maximum time during the changeovers, propping his feet up on a chair and munching energy bars and bananas.

"He just kept getting better and better," Fish said, "and more untired."

Fish's silver was the only medal for the American men or women, while Chile won three with Massu's gold, Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez's bronze, and the gold in doubles for Gonzo/Massu. It was the first career hardcourt singles title for Massu, and the first doubles title for both Massu and Gonzalez.

Massu playing 24 hours, 43 minutes of tennis over 11 matches in an exhibition of endurance and grit.

"Maybe he was playing a little cat-and-mouse in the beginning," Fish said. "I just don't understand how someone gets less and less tired, keeps going hour after hour. I'm in pretty good shape, and I was getting tired there at the end."

It was the second title on the year for Massu after the claycourt win at Kitzbuhel where he beat reigning French Open champ Gaston Gaudio in the final.