MONTREAL: Novak Djokovic returned to competition after a post-Wimbledon pause and coasted into the third round at the ATP Montreal Masters.
The world number one easily defeated Florian Mayer 6-2, 6-1, then proceeded to dance with a tennis ball mascot with choreography he said he and friends worked out last month on holiday in Croatia.
Mayer double-faulted to lose the 29-minute opening set and never made an impression on the top seed.
“After a month off I didn’t know what to expect,” said Djokovic, who lost the Wimbledon final to Andy Murray.
“I was extra careful against a tough opponent. I’m keeping my mind-set of step-by-step, one match at a time.
“I needed extra commitment from the start and everything went well on court. I’m looking forward going into the US Open even if I’m defending a lot of points — it’s not the first time for that.”
Djokovic, champion in 2007, 2011 and 2012, won his 11th straight match in Canada and stretched his career lead over Mayer to 5-0.
He now stands 40-6 on the season as he seeks his 15th career Masters 1000 trophy.
Locals put up a challenging front
It was an historic days for locals, with four first-round victories insuring a record-equalling five Canadians in the second round. The last time that happened was 1972, when some had byes.
Vasek Pospisil produced the most dramatic victory as he powered to a 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4) win over John Isner to send the big American back across the border.
Isner’s defeat means the US will have no man in the top 20 for the first time since the ATP rankings began 40 years ago.
Pospisil, the number 71 who claimed a Challenger title at the weekend in Vancouver, led the home charge, which also included wins for wild cards Filip Peliwo and Frank Dancevic.
They joined Jesse Levine, who also advanced in the tournament.
Canadian number one Milos Raonic, the 13th seed who has been struggling, needed to work to get past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
Pospisil’s win, in two and a half hours, gave him a 2-1 career lead over Isner, a semi-finalist in this tournament last year.
“This is such a win, I really believed in myself today,” said Pospisil. “It was an extremely tough match, especially with his huge serve. But I had confidence from Vancouver.”
In the other Canadian matches, 2012 double junior Grand Slam winner Peliwo won his Montreal senior debut saving a match point in the second set and advancing as Finn Jarkko Nieminen retired with hamstring trouble while trailing 3-6, 7-5, 3-1.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2013.