It’s like Christmas in Canada for tennis fans as wildcard Vasek “Popsicle” Pospisil and No. 11 seed Milos Raonic advanced into the Friday quarterfinals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Thursday.
Popsicle’s magic run, which has included downing hot-handed American John Isner and Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, continued on Thursday when he upended No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(5).
“I don’t really know what’s going on now,” said a dazed Pospisil after the match. “Right now it’s okay. It was pretty emotional, I mean, just the hard work that I’ve put in…I have an opportunity tomorrow [against Nikolay Davydenko] that I don’t want to pass up.”
Raonic advanced in controversial fashion, upsetting No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-4, and literally upsetting the Argentine when he touched the net during a key point late in their match, but the chair umpire missed it and Raonic wasn’t about to call it on himself.
“I was fortunate that the line judge didn’t see it,” Raonic said. “It’s a lucky thing for me in my sense, unlucky for [del Potro]. Something that can go really both ways…It’s the exact same thing as having no challenges left and you get a bad line call. It’s bad luck. It was hard to be able to take this point on such a big point.”
Del Potro didn’t see it that way, and after the match tweeted, “Very upset after the match I lost. About the end…I think everyone saw what happened.”
No. 2 seed Andy Murray was also an upset victim, powered off the court by Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-3, in his first event since winning Wimbledon.
“Better keep your expectations low, enjoy the moment. Be okay, be satisfied. But you have to keep on going,” said a philosophical, reserved Gulbis in his post-match conference, failing to mention his occasional favorite topics of drinking, gambling or soliciting prostitution. “I’m feeling better. I’m feeling fitter, faster, more confident with my strokes. I just tried not to show any weakness.”
Other winners into the quarters were No. 4 Rafael Nadal a 7-6(6), 6-4 winner over Jerzy Janowicz, veteran Russian Nikolay Davydenko beating Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-4, 6-3, Aussie qualifier Marinko Matosevic grinding past Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6(7), 6-7(10), 6-3, and No. 7 Richard Gasquet coming from a set down to beat No. 9 Kei Nishikori 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“His serve is huge,” said Nadal of Janowicz, who failed to serve out the first set at 6-5, and was up a break in the second. “His forehand and backhand can be very dangerous…My feeling is if these kinds of players have the ability to learn a few things and to understand how to play the points, they have a big advantage.”
In the final night match top-seeded Novak Djokovic needed to come from a set down to defeat the powerful Denis Istomin 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
After the match Djokovic took to the court to dance to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with ball kids and the tennis ball-costumed tournament mascot.
On the women’s side in Toronto, Belgian Kirsten Flipkens became likely the first player to lose bagel sets in singles to both Williams sisters in the same tournament, after beating Venus earlier in the event, losing Thursday to world No. 1 Serena 6-0, 6-3.
“After I won the first set I definitely thought about Venus, and I thought about what a good comeback Kirsten had, so I thought, ‘I’m not going to get overconfident,’” Williams said of Flipkens, who came from 0-6 down to beat Venus. “She’s obviously a really good player, so I was just trying to stay really focused as well as really intense at that moment.”
Upset-makers were Romanian Sorana Cirstea topping No. 15 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-4, Slovak Dominika Cibulkova defeating No. 10 Roberta Vinci 6-3, 7-6(4), and Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova receiving a gift when No. 7 Marion Bartoli retired with injury trailing 7-6(5), 1-0.
The remaining matches on the day went according to plan as No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska hung on to defeat No. 14 Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-6(2), No. 5 Sara Errani defeated France’s Alize Cornet 7-5, 7-6(3), No. 4 Na Li coming from a set down to beat No. 16 Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), and No. 6 Petra Kvitova out-hit No. 12 Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-3.
Is it just us — no Maria, no Victoria, no…interesting personalities. Martina Hingis, come save women’s tennis!
On court Friday are Canadian (WC) Vasek “Popsicle” Pospisil vs. Nikolay Davydenko, Canadian (11) Milos “The Missile” Raonic vs. Ernests Gulbis, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (7) Richard Gasquet, (4) Rafael Nadal vs. (Q) Marinko Matosevic, and on the women’s side (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. (5) Sara Errani, Dominika Cibulkova vs. (4) Na Li, (6) Petra Kvitova vs. Sorana Cirstea, and in the nightcap (1) Serena Williams vs. Magdalena Rybarikova.
FRIDAY MONTREAL SCHEDULE
CENTRAL start 12:00
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
Not Before 14:00
 M Raonic (CAN) vs E Gulbis (LAT)
Not Before 18:00
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Gasquet (FRA)
Not Before 20:00
 R Nadal (ESP) vs [Q] M Matosevic (AUS)
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