x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Djokovic sets off

The top seed Novak Djokovic beats the Canadian Frank Dancevic in the opener on his favourite hunting ground.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot to Frank Dancevic of Canada at the Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot to Frank Dancevic of Canada at the Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto.

TORONTO // Novak Djokovic began his defence of the Rogers Cup with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Canadian wild card Frank Dancevic. One of the top eight seeds to earn a first-round bye, third seed Djokovic was seeing his first action since a surprising second-round loss to Marat Safin at Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old Serb, who admitted he was mentally worn out at the All England Club, won this hardcourt event last season, posting consecutive victories over the top three players in the world en route to the title. Djokovic topped the then world No 3 Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and world No 1 Roger Federer in the championship match to become the first player to defeat the world's top three in the same event since Boris Becker in October 1994 at Stockholm. Despite having the crowd behind him as the top-ranked Canadian in the field, Dancevic was unable to prevent Djokovic from advancing from their second round match.

The 82nd-ranked player in the world, Dancevic watched his opponent save both break points he faced in the first set and win 78% (14-of-18) of his first-serve points in the second en route to victory. Roddick, the sixth seed here, opened with a 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-3 second-round victory over Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchman was a three-set winner over Janko Tipsarevic on Monday. Like Djokovic, Roddick also made an unexpected second-round exit at Wimbledon, and the shoulder injury which kept him from competing at the French Open remains an area of concern, as evidenced by his needing three sets to dispatch Mahut.

However, he was pleased with how the shoulder responded. "I felt good today and I felt like I hit the ball well," Roddick said. Meanwhile, Nadia Petrova took her first step toward another final at the East West Bank Classic by defeating Alina Jidkova 6-0 6-4 in the first round. The ninth seed had lost to the current world No 1 Ana Ivanovic in last year's final here at Los Angeles. Though Petrova turned in a respectable quarter-final effort at Wimbledon, the Russian has yet to play with much consistency this season.

Anna Chakvetadze is another Russian hoping to turn her year around and the third seed dominated Marta Domachowska 6-1, 6-1 in 50 minutes. The sixth seed Daniela Hantuchova defeated Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in another second round match. Other seeded players in first-round action included No 10 Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who cruised past Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-1, 6-0 and 11th seed Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, who beat Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1. Vania King defeated Angela Haynes 6-3 6-3 in an all-American battle.

* PA Sport