What the hell happened to Novak Djokovic? The Serb who’s been such a stud in Masters events the last year – had won 29 of his last 30 matches – was absolutely forgot to answer the bell today in a 6-2, 6-2 blowout by JW Tsonga 6-2, 6-2 in the third round at Toronto.
Whatever the issue – married life, complacency, rust (Tsonga was playing in his first event of the summer as well), – Djokovic better get it figured out quick because that was one of his worst performances of his career. One that will certainly catch the eye of the Rafael Nadal camp.
“Congratulations to Jo,” Djokovic lamented. “He played some great tennis. Served very well. He was obviously the better player on the court. I hadn’t played even close to what I intended before going to the court. Just nothing was going. No baseline, no serve, no return. Generally a very bad day, very poor performance. Couldn’t do much.”
Tsonga, who hadn’t beaten anyone of note since the win over Roger Federer at the French last year, ended a brutal 11-match losing streak to the Serb. So good for JW and hopefully this gets him back on track for bigger things.
“For me today it was great,” said Tsonga. “I played a good match. Soon in the match I was in good condition. I served pretty well, I was pretty aggressive.
“I’m working hard every day. It’s not every day you get the rewards of what you’re doing every day during the year. You leave your family, practise hard, suffer a lot on the court. And when you win a match like this, you just feel good.”
Tsonga now faces Andy Murray in the marquee match tomorrow afternoon in the quarters. Murray got through when Richard Gasquet pulled out with an abdominal injury.
Murray, who’s twice won the Canadian Open, has beaten Tsonga nine of ten meetings including eight straight. So I make Murray the very, very slight favorite here, but the match will be on Tsonga’s racquet. And the Frenchman is suddenly hot again.
Djokovic wasn’t the only Slam winner on the season to lose Thursday. Stan Wawrinka fell to Kevin Anderson in three. I thought Anderson might have a big summer, and after disappointing in Atlanta and Washington, he’s finally found the form again.
Anderson now gets Grigor Dimitrov. The man known as Baby Fed and as Mr. Sharapova pulled a Maria winning yet another match in three sets edging Tommy Robredo.
“I know I’m in a good position right now. He obviously had a good win today against Stan,” Dimitrov said. “Tomorrow’s another day, another match. I like my chances.”
And I do too. Grigor’s 4-1 against Kevin who won their only indoor meeting at San Jose a few years ago.
Milos Raonic continues to be the class of the new wave. The Canadian survived a game Julien Benneteau to win in three. Tomorrow night it’ll be another nip-and-tuck affair against his old Spanish buddy Feliciano Lopez who was a winner over Tomas Berdych.
I make Raonic a slight favorite in that one.
“Obviously as a lefty, things are going to change a little bit with the angles,” Raonic said of the match-up. “I have been able to find answers in the past against him, so just gonna have that same approach. I feel like I have improved since the last time I played him. I’m looking forward to playing better tomorrow than I did today. If I do so, then I can dictate and control the center of the court. I feel like I will be able to create some possibilities and opportunities.
“Feliciano previously had worked with my fitness trainer and Galo and they were good friends,” he added. “He’s a good guy. He’s a very good person in that sense, and he’s good to be around.”
And in nightcap, Roger Federer tries to stay perfect against David Ferrer. Both guys go into the match off three setters. Ferrer a rather straightforward win over Ivan Dodig. Federer, though, was pushed to the edge by the Croat. After taking the first, in the second Federer let slip SIX matchpoint chances. Often we see players fall apart after blowing such an opportunity and early in the third it looked like Federer would do just that. But he stood firm and eventually got a late break to take the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.
“Nerve wracking,” Federer said of the win. “I thought Marin played really well, especially for longer periods, as well. I’m happy I was able to find a way tonight.”
As for Friday, Federer is 14-0 against Ferrer. Would Ferrer really try to break his duck of the day of Federer’s 33rd birthday? Of course not!
“If I don’t play well, it’s one of those guys that you’re not going to come through,” Federer said looking ahead. “I’ve got to play different as well a little bit. There is a few adjustments I need to make in a short bit of time here, but I hope I can find a way.”
Over in Montreal, the women’s tournament wasn’t immune to the upset bug. A host of Slam winners and former No. 1s fell as Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic all tumbled. Serena Williams and Venus Williams both survived as did Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska.
ESPN2 and Tennis Channel will have coverage on Friday.
FRIDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU) vs  A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
Not Before 1:00 pm
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
K Anderson (RSA) vs  G Dimitrov (BUL)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 M Raonic (CAN) vs F Lopez (ESP)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  R Federer (SUI)
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