Massu, Nicolas : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Massu, Nicolas

Massu, a Chilean, won both the singles and the doubles Oympic gold medals in the 2004 Athens Games.

He enjoyed his breakout year in 2003, as his performance at the Tennis Masters tournament catapulted the player to the top 20 and in 2004 he reached the top 10. He won his third career singles title -- and second of the year 2003 -- at the Palermo Open in late September, and is currently the top-ranked male Jewish player in the world. As of July 8, 2005, Nicolas was ranked at No. 30 (his career-best was No. 9 in Septmber, 2004) in the world in men's singles (he is also ranked No. 34 in doubles).

Massu won the Dutch Open on July 20, 2003, by defeating Raemon Sluiter of the Netherlands, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. It was Massu's second career singles title (his first was the 2002 AT&T Cup). Nicolas said following his victory, "It feels fantastic to have won the Dutch Open. This tournament is very important to me...It was very intense, but I felt relaxed out there, almost as though I knew I was going to win."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Oct. 10, 1979

Career Highlights:
Massu, whose mother is Jewish, began his professonal career in 1997, but his first full season on the ATP tour wasn't until 2000. That year, Nicolas was a finalist in a tournament in Orlando, competed in three of the four Grand Slam events (the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open), and participated in the singles and doubles events at the Sydney Olympics.

In 2001, he competed in the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon. In 2002, Massu appeared in three Grand Slam events, reaching the third round in the U.S. Open after losing in the first round at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon.

Massu said after his second career ATP victory at the 2003 Dutch Open, "When I won my first title in Buenos Aires, I felt I was playing the best tennis of my career. Two weeks later, I was hit by injuries. After two operations on my knee, I couldn't play for months and when I came back, I suffered from a lack of confidence. Now I feel my game is peaking again and I am looking forward to the rest of the season with great eagerness. My immediate aim now is to be in the Top 50, but I hope to end the year in the Top 20. Of course, my dream is to be in the Top 10, but that won't be easy. There are so many good players out there, but it is still my long term goal."

At the 2003 French Open, Massu won his first round match against Magnus Norman of Sweden in straight sets (6-4, 6-1, 6-3). In the second round, he played No. 3 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero and was forced to retire in the second set (down 6-2, 3-0) because of an injured ankle suffered during his victory over Norman.

Nicolas competed in the men's singles event at Wimbledon in 2003. He won his first-round match over Zeljko Krajan of Croatia in straight sets (6-1, 6-1, 6-1). In the second round, Massu faced No. 27 seed Younes El Aynaoui and lost, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), and 4-6.

Massu enjoyed a strong showing at the US Open. He rolled over the 30 seed Gaston Gaudio in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2; then went on to defeat veteran Thomas Enqvist, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. The No. 7 seed Carlos Moya, however, was too good for Massu. Nicolas lost to him, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

At the Madrid Tennis Masters competition, Massu beat Andy Roddick early on. He then dispensed of Juan Ignacio Chela in three sets, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he beat Yanis El Aynaoui (No. 15 in the world), 7-5, 6-4, before succumbing to Juan Carlos Ferrero (world No. 1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, in the final of the prestigious event.

Nicolas suffered a major setback in the 2004 Australian Open. He lost to the No.37 in the world, Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the tournament. The disappointing result was a major setback to his ambitions towards cracking the top ten. Massu also competed in the men's doubles with Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. They lost to No. 1 seed Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round.

In May 2004, Nicolas captured the World Team Championship title in Dusseldorf. He beat several world class players on the way to the title starting with Jiri Novak and Albert Costa and Rainer Schuettler in the group rounds. In the final he beat Aussie star Mark Philippoussis 6-3, 6-1.

The Chilean ace went into the 2004 Roland Garros in roaring form, seeded 11th in the competition. In the first round he beat Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) on his way to the second round. Belorussian Vladimir Voltchkov was painlessly ejected 6-3,6-1,6-0. Massu put was surprisingly weak in his third round match against 17th seed, Spaniard Tommy Roberdo. He was knocked out by a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 that belies his true quality. In Wimbledon 2004, the Chilean ace was particularly unimpressive and was knocked out in the first round in both the doubles and singles events.

Massu won his second singles title of the year 2004 at Kitzbuhel in Austria during July 2004. He beat Yuri Schukin 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 32. The Chilean often struggled against Tomas Berdych (117 in the world) of the Czech Republic in the subsequent round but came out on top 7-6, 3-6, 6-4. He met the talented Mariano Zabaleta in the quarterfinals and beat him on two tie-breaks 7-6, 7-6. Rainer Schuettler (ranked 21 in the world at the time) was trampled 6-3, 6-3 by Massu en route to the final. He won the title by defeating Argentine ace Gaston Gaudio (fifth in the world) 7-6, 6-4.

Massu made his first real major tournament impression at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. He teamed up with his countryman Fernando Gonzalez in the doubles event. The team Chilean team played Mark Knowles and Mark Merklein of the Bahamas in the first round, and defeated them 7-5, 6-4. In the second round, the duo faced Argentines Martin Rodriguez and Gaston Etlis and defeated them 6-3, 7-6 (2). The Chilean team pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the doubles competition in the quarterfinals. Gonzalez and Massu defeated the top ranked team in the Olympics, Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S in two sets (7-5, 6-4). They played Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic (Croatia) in the semi-finals on August 19 and defeated them 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Gonzalez and Massu beat Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler of Germany in the Olympic gold match 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.

Massu was ecstatic to win gold: "Well, to be here and to compete for the medal and get the gold is unbelievable. Of course, it's the happiest day of my life as an athlete. To play tennis all week, to win a medal, to enter into the history of our country. I think it's a dream for anyone." The Olympic doubles is the first major title Nicolas has ever won.

In the singles event, Massu is ranked 10th overall. He faced former world no.1, Gustavo Kuerten in the first round, on August 16. Massu beat him 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 and was drawn to play Vincent Spadea (23 in the world) in the second round. After a very tough first set, Nicolas coasted in the second and beat the talented American 7-6 (3), 6-2. The Chilean ace played Igor Andreev (ranked 55 in the world) in the third round and beat him 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in an epic battle. The quarterfinal draw threw up Carlos Moya, ranked fourth in the world and a favorite for gold. The Chilean upset Moya 6-2, 7-5 in a dazzling display of skill. Nicolas beat American upstart Taylor Dent in the semi's 7-5, 6-1. Massu completed an amazing gold medal double by defeating Mardy Fish (ranked 36 in the world) of the U.S 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Chilean won Chile's second gold medal in less then 24 hours. Nicolas looked fatigued through much of the match, as he had played more then one match on most days and played a five set doubles final the day before. However he pulled a fantastic fourth and fifth set performance off, just as he seemed to be on the proverbial ropes.

Massu could not believe his fortune after winning two gold medals: "I was so happy because this is my best memory in my sport career. If I look back in 10 more years, I look back on this, I'm gonna be so happy. Now I can die happy."

Nicolas went into the 2004 U.S Open, high on his double Olympic gold success. In the first round, Massu played Argentine Jose Acasuso (ranked 79 in the world) and beat him easily 6-4, 6-0, 6-2. The second round found the Chilean battling Sargis Sargsian (ranked 54), in a fascinating battle with two tie breaks. Massu lost 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 4-6 and was eliminated from the tournament. The Chilean competed with his compatriot Fernando Gonzalez in the doubles event. The duo beat Karsten Braasch and Sargis Sargsian (who eliminated Massu in the singles event) 7-6, 6-4 in the first round. Gonzalez and Massu met Julian Knowle and Zimonjic in the second round and won 5-7, 7-5, 7-6. They played the Czech team of Martin Damm and Cyril Suk in the third round, winning 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. The Chileans succumbed to third seeds Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor 7-6, 5-7, 4-6 in the quarterfinals.

The Olympic champion underwent groin surgery in November 2004, and therefore entered the 2005 season off top form. Massu fought his way through two tough opening sets before finding his rhythm against Antony Dupuis in the first round of the 2005 Australian Open. The 18th seed won 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-2. Nicolas lost to German Philipp Kohlschreiber (ranked 102 in the world) in the second round as he retired with a knee injury while behind 0-6, 0-2.

Massu suffered a disappointing 2005 Roland Garros. The Chilean was seeded 22nd in the tournament but was eliminated by Swiss youngster Stanislas Wawrinka after a 7-6 (4-7), 2-6, 2-6, 6-4 contest in the first round.

Massu and his partner Fernando Gonzalez were unseeded going into the 2005 Roland Garros tournament, but the gold-medal winning duo proved they deserved far greater respect. The Chileans outplayed Daniele Bracciali and Andrei Pavel 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the first round. They faced another roller coaster three set match against Yves Allegro and Michael Kohlmann in the second round, as they pulled out a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3 victory. Massu and Gonzalez made easy work of third round opponents Hyung-Taik Lee and Kevin Kim going 6-2, 6-2. The quarterfinals brought together the Olympic champs and Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer and the match turned into a lengthy 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 battle. The Chileans played Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi (seeded 2nd), and the underdog South Americans put up a fight but came out on the bottom after a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 encounter.

Massu went into the Wimbledon singles competition seeded 29th overall. In the first round he defeated talented Armenian Sargis Sargsian in straight sets 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 6-4. Nicolas was unable to subdue an on form Justin Gimelstob as he fell 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-0). Massu and partner Fernando Gonzalez were seeded 12th in the Wimbledon doubles competition. In the first round they defeated the Czech team of Lukas Dlouhy and David Skoch 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. They were eliminated in the subsequent round by two strong Belgian singles players, Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus 6-1, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

Vina Del Mar, Chile

Physical description:
Right handed

6"0, 177 pounds

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Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Volume 2, No. 8, Issue 21)