Article By Mike McIntyre
Tennis fans in Montreal were in-store for a great day on Wednesday with the world's top three players slated to hit Centre Court. Everyone was wondering how Djokovic, Nadal and Federer would respond after such a long layoff. Would there be any upsets as we saw yesterday with Andy Murray?
In the opening match of the day, Roger Federer made his return to the courts since a quick Davis Cup appearance in early July for Switzerland. He has not seen any tournament match-play since a shocking quarter-final loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the All-England Club in June.
Today was one of those rare days where Federer did not have the whole crowd behind him as he was matched-up against young Canadian Vasek Pospisil. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of this kid as this was the first main-draw ATP World Tour event of his career.
Only having just recently turned 21 years of age and ranked 155th in the world, Pospisil had failed to qualify for the Rogers Cup in his previous two attempts. This year, due in part to his strong play for Canada in the Davis Cup, he was granted a wild-card into the main draw. He did not disappoint yesterday as he advanced to the second round with a gutsy three-set win over 22nd ranked Juan Ignacio Chela.
Although Pospisil managed to stay with Federer today through the first ten games of the opening set, nerves kicked in when serving at 5-6. Pospisil knew this would be a factor coming into the match as Federer was his idol growing up. He dropped four straight points to hand the set over to the world's number three player.
In the second frame, Federer seemed to find his game and the pace picked up quickly. Pospisil could not match it and looked somewhat helpless as his hero walked away with it 7-5, 6-3. The young Canadian admitted he had never before seen shots like Federer's in his short professional career.
"I mean, I knew he plays fast. But it's another level of fast, to be honest. I've never felt a ball that goes through the court as fast as his does, especially his forehand."
Still, the result was a promising one for Pospisil who will now see his ranking reach an all-time high of roughly 145th in the world according to ATP stats guru Greg Sharko.
"My plan was just to concentrate on my own game, kind of hit my targets, try to play the ball rather than the occasion and the player," Pospisil said after the match had ended. "Obviously it's a lot easier said than done when you step on the court and you have Federer in front of you."
Federer will advance to a terrific third round match that everyone was hoping for against Tsonga. The Frenchman defeated rising Australian star Bernard Tomic today in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(1). I asked Tsonga if Federer had lost some of his intimidation after beating him both here in Montreal two years ago as well as at Wimbledon this summer.
"Anyway, (he's) still the best player ever for me. So it's still tough to play against him. And I think the win I had in the past, you know, they will help me, of course. But like when I lost against him, because I lost many times, I think all these matches will help me a lot."
Later on Wednesday, American John Isner came out and quickly finished-off Marcos Baghdatis in a match that was postponed due to rain Tuesday evening. Isner was up 6-3, 1-0 when play resumed and was not challenged by Baghdatis as he would close out the match 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the next round. Isner won't get much rest as he is scheduled to play Viktor Troicki later in the day.
Next up the world got its first look at newly crowned world number one Novak Djokovic. It took a while for Djokovic to look the part as he quickly found himself down by two breaks against Nikolay Davydenko. The Russian used to be a top-ten stalwart but has seen his game hampered since a wrist injury that kept him out for a good stretch in 2010. Davydenko came ready to play today though and his crisp ground-strokes were finding their mark deep in the court.
Just when Twitter was starting to buzz with talk of an upset, Djokovic came back into the first set thanks in part to some errors on Davydenko's part. The 30th ranked player in the world then crumbled in the second and the victory was Djokovic's 7-5, 6-1. Disaster averted.
Life won't get any easier for Djokovic as he will next play either Marin Cilic or Juan Martin Del Potro who were on-serve at 3-3 in the first set when rain halted play just after 5pm ET.
Other final results from today in Montreal:
Monfils d. Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 7-6(5) (Le Monf pleases the French fans here)
Berdych d. Dolgopolov 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 (Nice recovery by Berdych against a tough early-round opponent)
Gasquet d. Bellucci 6-1, 6-4 (Gasquet looking great through two matches here so far)
Wawrinka d. Russell 6-3, 6-2 (Wawrinka also breezing through opponents)
Almagro d. Stakhovsky 6-2, 7-6(5) (Good result on hard-court for Almagro, but Gasquet up next)
Karlovic d. Petzschner 6-7(0), 7-6(2), 7-6(6) (Five out of six sets have been tie-breaks for Ivo so far)