Novak Djokovic advanced over lucky loser Mirza Basic 6-3, 7-6(3) in his Toronto opener on Tuesday. Djokovic was slated to play Hyeon Chung but the Korean withdrew from the event with a back injury.
He was replaced by the 27-year-old Bosnian who was outclassed early, but troubled the 4-time Canadian champ in the second, breaking him twice late, before falling.
“I’ve had plenty of success in Toronto and Montreal, and I wanted to start off well,” said Djokovic. “I think I played a solid match. Obviously, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the new surface. The conditions here are quite different from practicing in Europe or other places… So I’ll just focus on this week and see how it goes.”
Djokovic returns today to meet Canadian Peter Polansky.
Speaking of Canadians, their teens had a terrific day. 2017 breakout semifinalist Denis Shapovalov rolled through Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 6-4.
“Whenever I’m at home, I just seem to loosen up with the crowd,” Shapovalov said. “And I just enjoyed myself out there today. It was really fun to be on that centre court with so many people watching.
“It was one of those matches where everything was kind of feeling good for me. So it’s a really good feeling and hopefully it continues.”
And 17-year-old Felix Auger-Allissiame made a strong statement in a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Lucas Pouille.
“I think it’s kind of a statement for me to win these matches, to prove to myself and others that I can compete with these guys. That I have the level to be there, to compete in the Top 100,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“I’m very happy that I have won my first match, but for me it’s just another step towards where I want to go, where I want to be as a player. So I’m not the type of player to really, the type of guy, in general, to get excited for wins. I have a long-term vision, and this is just another great step in my career.”
Auger-Aliassime turns 18 today.
“It’s funny because I was thinking about it the whole year. I was like, ‘OK, like, this year I’m turning 18. You know, I’m going to be major in Montreal in Quebec. I was like, OK, it’s all exciting.’ Like, I had plans for my birthday.
“And now that the tournament is here, it’s like I have another priority. It’s like I’m not even thinking about my birthday, So it’s kind of funny,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“For every teenager, 18th birthday is something you are waiting for. Now I’m playing the Rogers Cup, so I haven’t really thought of doing anything for my birthday except playing a match.”
The best match of the day lived up to the billing as Stan Wawrinka edged Nick Kyrgios in a thriller 1-6, 7-5, 7-5.
“It’s never easy to play against him. He doesn’t give you a lot of freedom. He can serve big. Games can go really quickly on his side,” Wawrinka said. “For sure he’s struggling physically… For me, it was important to stay focused on myself, on my game. I’m trying to get some confidence from winning matches.”
In second round play, Grigor Dimitrov survived a lengthy rain delay to turn away Fernando Verdasco in a final set breaker and in the early morning hours Marin Cilic got past countryman Borna Coric also in three.
On Wednesday, the second round completes with debuts with 3-time champion Rafael Nadal playing his first hard court match since Australia. Big men John Isner, Juan Martin del Potro, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson are also on court and the Canadians have a big day with Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Raonic on Centre.
WEDNESDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
(WC) Peter Polansky v 9 Novak Djokovic
Frances Tiafoe v Milos Raonic
Not Before 2:00 Pm
Denis Shapovalov v 14 Fabio Fognini
Not Before 6:30 Pm
1 Rafael Nadal v Benoit Paire
Not Before 8:00 Pm
(Q) Daniil Medvedev v (WC) Felix Auger-Aliassime
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