Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has gotten off to a solid start in the North American summer hard-court season, defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Mirza Basic 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the first round of the Rogers Cup. Also on Tuesday, a pair of top-10 players — Bulgarian No. 5 seed Grigor Dimitrov and Croatian No. 6 seed Marin Cilic — moved through to the third round with three-set victories over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Croatia’s Borna Coric, respectively, reports Efe. The ninth-seeded Djokovic had initially been due to face Hyeon Chung, in what would have been a rematch of a 2018 Australian Open contest won by the promising young South Korean. But when Chung withdrew from this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament with a back injury, lucky loser Basic took his place in the draw.
Djokovic dominated the first set, but he had to win the second set in a tiebreaker after twice squandering service-break leads due to sloppy play on serve. “I thought I served very well today … except those double faults in the game (4-3 in the second set) when I lost the break. But, in general, I worked a lot on that shot (recently),” the 13-time Grand Slam champion, who will next play Canadian wildcard Peter Polansky in the second round, was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s Web site.
In action later Tuesday, Dimitrov edged Verdasco 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) in a match that had been delayed by rain in the final set.
Dimitrov, who has struggled in recent months and has not reached an ATP World Tour semi-final since April’s Monte-Carlo Masters, clinched the victory by winning a 35-shot rally on match point.
“Sometimes one, two, three matches, it can really turn it around for you again. If you stay compact, stay smart and do the right things you just never known when the tables might turn for you,” the Bulgarian was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s site. Next up for Dimitrov in the third round will be either big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic or American Francis Tiafoe. Also Tuesday, Cilic got past Coric 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the third round and will next take on either speedy 11th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman or American Sam Querrey.
In Rogers Cup women’s action Tuesday in Montreal, eight-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-4 in the second round and Russia’s Maria Sharapova routed Bulgarian qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva 6-1, 6-2 in the first round. Kvitova will play either ninth-seeded Karolina Pliskova or the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens in the third round of this Premier 5 event. Sharapova will take on 12th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina in second-round action. The world’s top tennis players are in action this week at the Rogers Cup in preparation for the US Open, which gets under way on August 27.