Dent, Fish move on to semifinals

Updated: August 19, 2004, 6:35 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Two unheralded Americans were able to do something Andy Roddick couldn't -- reach the Olympic singles semifinals.

Mardy Fish advanced to the medal round by beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday night, while Taylor Dent was a 6-4, 6-1 winner against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 18-year-old who upset No. 1 Roger Federer.

It was quite a 24-hour turnaround for the U.S. contingent: Roddick, Venus Williams and two other women, plus the men's doubles team all lost Wednesday.

"It was disappointing to see part of the team go out," said Dent, who sat in the stands to root for Fish after completing his victory. "I wish they were all here."

The semifinals Friday both will be United States vs. Chile, which never has won a tennis medal. Dent plays No. 10 Nicolas Massu, and Fish plays No. 16 Fernando Gonzalez, who upset Roddick in the third round.

Gonzalez followed that up by eliminating No. 8 Sebastien Grosjean of France 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, and Massu added to the rash of upsets this week with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over No. 3 Carlos Moya.

While all the top men are gone, the three highest-seeded women won quarterfinals Thursday.

No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne beat two-time major champion Mary Pierce of France 6-4, 6-4, No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo outlasted No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2, and No. 3 Anastasia Myskina defeated No. 11 Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-1, 6-2.

Friday, Belgium's Henin-Hardenne plays Russia's Myskina in a matchup between the past two French Open champions, while France's Mauresmo meets unseeded Australian Alicia Molik. Molik had the only surprise among the women Thursday, eliminating No. 8 Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-3, 6-4.

Massu and Gonzalez were to play Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in a doubles semifinal later Thursday. Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler of Germany reached the final by beating fifth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India 6-2, 6-3.

It's Massu's best showing at a big tournament. He's never been past the third round at a Grand Slam, and he lost in the second round at the 2000 Sydney Games after carrying Chile's flag in the opening ceremony.

Moya, in contrast, was the 1998 French Open champion and the 1997 Australian Open runner-up. The Spaniard also was briefly ranked No. 1 in 1999.

Massu ended the quarterfinal on his sixth match point, breaking Moya's serve on a 20-stroke exchange that ended with the Chilean's cross-court forehand passing winner despite a broken string.

Massu let go of his racket, then sank to his knees and dropped face-down on court. Up at the net, Moya threw his racket end-over-end, and it landed about 15 feet away.

Henin-Hardenne, meanwhile, is looking terrific in her first competition since losing in the second round of the French Open in May. She only resumed full training three weeks ago, finally over a viral illness.

She's lost a total of 19 games through four matches.

Thursday, the three-time Grand Slam champion gained control by breaking for a 3-2 edge in the first set, taking a 105-mph serve and ripping a forehand return that caught the line and flew out of Pierce's reach.

Henin-Hardenne opened the second set by breaking Pierce again.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press