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Chilean pair win country's first gold

Ossian Shine | August 22, 2004 15:08 IST

Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez won Chile's first gold medal at an Olympics in a five-set tennis marathon that ended at 2:37 a.m. (2337 GMT) on Sunday.

The Chileans beat Germany's Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 after three hours and 43 minutes on court, having started the match on Saturday evening.

"It's a wonderful thing for Chile. I want to dedicate this to all the people ... my family, my friends," said Gonzalez.

"I will have this medal my whole life and today will stay with me forever."

For Gonzalez the victory was something of a superhuman feat. He had already spent three hours and 25 minutes on court earlier on Saturday beating Taylor Dent (U.S.) 6-4, 2-6, 16-14 for the bronze medal in the men's singles.

After a total of seven hours and eight minutes on court he sank to the ground after the German team sent the ball long beyond the baseline to hand the Chileans victory.

"This is hugely emotional ... in both matches I thought everything was getting out of reach," Gonzalez said.

"It was a huge day like yesterday. One minute before playing the (bronze medal match) singles I was still sad from losing (on Friday in the last four) but now it is completely different.

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"After losing on Friday, I never felt such sadness in my life, but I couldn't tell anyone because I had to play this final today and stand with Nicolas on the court.

"(Now I am so happy) especially because of the kind of wins. We turned it around ... it was a very intense match. I felt the support of the people and they helped me a lot.

"I love playing with Massu, we've known each other since we were kids. Now we want to play more together. He's a great person, a great partner and a great friend. Moreover a great tennis player."

The Chileans could double their gold medal haul on Sunday when Massu faces Mardy Fish (U.S.) in the singles gold medal match.

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