World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, playing his first match since capturing the Wimbledon title, was pushed to the limit in his opening match at the Rogers Cup in Toronto Wednesday, despite delivering 36 winners just edging unseeded Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(2).
“In a way it was fun, of course, and entertaining to be part of this match,” Djokovic said. “I enjoyed it. I tried to take the positives from this long match, and those are obviously the fact that I stayed over two-and-a-half hours on the court and I have not played an official hard court match since the Miami final. That helps obviously to play a little bit more, to feel the court, to feel the conditions.”
Djokovic will next get a chance to feel the court even more when he faces another Frenchman and similar-style opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was a 7-6(6), 6-4 winner over countryman Jeremy Chardy.
Another player making his first appearance since the All England Club was No. 8 seed Andy Murray, an easy 6-2, 6-2 victor against Aussie youngster Nick Kyrgios.
“I thought I did most things like pretty solid,” Murray said. “It was a solid match for a first match back after sort of four and a half, five weeks. I was happy…After Wimbledon, I went over to Miami and I really trained like I used to for the first time since the surgery and I felt much better.”
Other Top 10-seeded three-set winners were No. 4 Tomas Berdych surviving an upset bid from Yen-Hsun Lu 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4; No. 5 David Ferrer grinding past American Mike Russell 6-4, 2-6, 6-1; No. 6 Milos Raonic defeating American Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), and No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov likewise needing three sets to tame streaking American Donald Young 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Other seeds advancing were No. 12 Richard Gasquet defeating Ivo Karlovic in three, No. 15 Marin Cilic and No. 17 Tommy Robredo.
On the upset tip Wednesday were two unseeded veterans, with Julien Benneteau toppling the mercurial No. 11 Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4), 6-3, and the big-serving Kevin Anderson topping the combustible No. 16 Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-2.
On the women’s side of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Wednesday, world No. 1 Serena Williams put on her game face to dispatch of former US Open winner Sam Stosur 6-0, 6-2.
Serena delivered 10 aces to one for the Australian. She will next meet No. 15 seed Lucie Safarova who defeated Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-2.
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 2 Petra Kvitova who eased past Aussie Casey Dellacqua 6-3, 6-2; No. 4 Maria Sharapova who came from a set down to defeat Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; No. 6 Angelique Kerber who rolled past France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-1; and No. 7 Jelena Jankovic who edged Sloane Stephens 6-7(4) 6-4, 7-6(4).
“It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been in a competitive atmosphere,” Sharapova said. “It’s always quite different than practice no matter how much you train. Once you step on the court, you feel the energy from the crowd and you get inspired by everything, but you’re ultimately a bit rusty. I’m just happy that I got through that and won today because I had a very tough opponent.”
Sharapova will next face No. 14 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Czech Karolina Pliskova.
No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Klara Koukalova, and will next meet American Shelby Rogers, while No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova fell to Brit Heather Watson 6-2, 6-7(2), 7-6(5).
In the late match Wednesday night, American Coco Vandeweghe upset No. 9 seed Ana Ivanovic 6-7(7), 7-6(7), 6-4.
In other unseeded play Venus Williams advanced past Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2, and Sabine Lisicki came from a set down to beat Madison Keys 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
STADIUM start 11:00 am
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs K Anderson (RSA)
Not Before 1:00 pm
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
 R Gasquet (FRA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
Not Before 6:30 pm
 M Raonic (CAN) vs J Benneteau (FRA)
 M Cilic (CRO) vs  R Federer (SUI)
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