The upset theme continued Wednesday in Canada as we saw Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki both knocked out of tournament competition.
The big surprise was Nadal who had not lost in a tournament opener in over three years (2008 Rome) going down in a third set tiebreak thriller to Ivan Dodig 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
Nadal led the scrappy yet solid Dodig by a break twice in the third set but errant forehands and spotty serving cost the Spaniard in the end. And credit to Dodig who has a sneaky good game to pull out the victory of his career – I believe Dodig was the only player to take a set this year off Novak Djokovic in Australia.
“I had to close the match with the 5-3 in the third set,” said Nadal. “I had to close that match probably in the second when I was playing very well, 6-1, 3-1, playing very high level of tennis.
“After that, the tennis is like this. You are winning without many problems, you have one mistake, and after the opponent starts to serve very well, playing very aggressive.”
How rare to see Nadal squander leads twice in that match.
Said Dodig, “I keep fighting second set even when I was down 3-1. I think I relaxed more and my serve started to work. Especially after I broke him first time, I was getting more points with my serve. I was getting also like more relaxed during the rallies. I was going more for the shots. Was working quite good today, especially in the important points.”
Nadal and Andy Murray’s losses leave the door wide open in that bottom half for the streaking Mardy Fish who blew out Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-3.
In a mild upset, Marin Cilic had his way with Juan Martin Del Potro taking down his fellow big man 6-3, 6-4. So far after early losses at LA and now Canada, this hasn’t been the summer I thought I’d see from Delpo.
Cilic, who’s been off the radar since the start of last year, now gets Djokovic today. The Serb survived an early 4-1 deficit to Nikolay Dayvdenko to run away with the match 7-5, 6-1 in his debut as a No. 1.
“He didn’t give me a lot of rhythm in the start of the match,” said Djokovic who improves to 49-1 on the year. “I didn’t play a match for four weeks. It took me some time to get used to the conditions, get into the match. I needed to hang in there. I needed to wait for the chances. I did. I turned the match around on 4-1 when I broke him the first time. Then I felt much more comfortable.”
Also on the slick-looking, rainy Montreal courts, Ernests Gulbis (who plays Fish tonight), Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, JW Tsonga and Roger Federer were also winners.
Tonight, Federer and Tsonga clash in the marquee match of the day. Federer, not known for his ability to choke, has egregiously done so twice against Tsonga.
Federer fell apart against Tsonga at Wimbledon this year blowing a 2-0 set lead. And in 2009 at Montreal Federer led 5-1 in the third set before seizing up to the Frenchman.
And Federer remembers.
“I will not think about that Wimbledon match as much as I might think about the match we had here two years ago,” said Federer. “Both matches were, so to speak, not normal matches. One, I was up in the third and I should have won. I never lose those. In Wimbledon, I lost in five sets. Again, that doesn’t happen often to me. So these two matches were strange matches.”
Does it happen for a third time today? I think with the quick court speed it’s very reasonable to see Tsonga pull the upset again. But I’ll give the slight edge to Federer who has to be out for revenge.
In Ontario, the hard times continue for the paper No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. The no-so-great-of-late Dane got dumped yesterday by Roberta Vinci in straight sets. It seems only a matter of time now before Caro surrenders her top ranking because with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova back in the fold I can’t see her winning Slams or major titles anytime soon.
Speaking of Serena and Maria, both earned similar straight wins yesterday. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and French Open victor Li Na were also second round winners.
ESPN2 will have live coverage from noon-4pm ET from Montreal today. ESPN3.com will have the night session with Federer. Tennis Channel doesn’t have any coverage from Canada scheduled for today.
THURSDAY MONTREAL SCHEDULE
CENTRAL start 12:00 noon
 T Berdych (CZE) vs I Karlovic (CRO)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs M Cilic (CRO)
Not Before 5:30 PM
 V Troicki (SRB) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
 R Federer (SUI) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
BN COURT start 12:00 noon
A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) vs  E Butorac (USA) / J Rojer (AHO)
Not Before 1:00 PM
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs K Anderson (RSA)
Not Before 3:30 PM
J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs I Dodig (CRO)
Not Before 5:00 PM
 M Fish (USA) vs [WC] E Gulbis (LAT)
Not Before 7:30 PM
 R Gasquet (FRA) vs  N Almagro (ESP)
THURSDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Samantha Stosur vs. Li Na
2. Andrea Petkovic vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 13.00hrs)
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Galina Voskoboeva (NB 15.00hrs)
4. Serena Williams vs. Zheng Jie (NB 19.00hrs)
5. Francesca Schiavone vs. Lucie Safarova
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