Toronto – Top-ranked Novak Djokovic edged Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) on Wednesday in the second round of the Rogers Cup.
After a lopsided tiebreaker, Djokovic fist-pumped and yelled at the end of the match that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Monfils pulled out all the stops by hitting a between-the-legs shot and throwing his racket to hit the ball, and each player tried to ignite the crowd to get louder.
“He's probably the only guy in the world, tennis player, that I would pay a ticket to watch the match,” Djokovic said of Monfils. “He's really fun to watch but not so much fun to play against. ... He loves jumping around, sliding, he's very unpredictable. You don't know what his next move is, so that's why he's so interesting.”
Monfils didn't endear himself to fans by arguing with chair umpire Gerry Armstrong after receiving a time violation, even as they were captivated by his dazzling play on the court. As a result, Djokovic had support behind him as he came back from a 3-1
deficit in the third set.
“In a way it was fun, of course, and entertaining to be part of this match,” said Djokovic, who will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the next round. “I enjoyed it.”
By avoiding what would've been the biggest upset of the tournament thus far, Djokovic kept alive the possibility of facing eighth-seeded Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
Murray had little trouble winning his opener, defeating 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-2 in the first match of the day on center court.
“He outclassed me, he did everything better than me,” said Kyrgios, who upset Rafael Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Murray, the 2013 Wimbledon champion who had back surgery last autumn, was pleased with the match.
“I thought I did most things like pretty solid,” the Scot said. “I didn't make too many errors. I moved well, (had a) high first-serve percentage.”
Murray will face either Ivo Kalovic or Richard Gasquet in the next round.
“It's a tough draw, but it's also good to play against someone like a Novak if you get that opportunity in the buildup to the U.S. Open,” Murray said. “You really see where your game is at.”
Milos Raonic had his serve going amid some erratic shots as he came back to beat American Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) on center court.
Fans chanted “Let's go Milos! Let's go Milos!” between points, cheering on the last Canadian left in the field. On Tuesday, all four men who played singles were eliminated.
Raonic stunted that momentum with 15 aces that helped offset some struggles to return Sock's serve. He won 79 percent of his first-serve points but was broken in the first set.
In the second set, Raonic held serve before blowing out Sock in the tiebreaker. The Canadian needed another tiebreak to finish off the match.
Raonic will face Julien Benneteau of France on Thursday. Benneteau upset 11th-seeded Ernests Gulbis on Wednesday after beating Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a match with Djokovic.
Last week, Nadal withdrew from tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati because of a right wrist injury. – Sapa-AP