WHOA. After a long rain delay, Rafael Nadal took the court in Montreal late this evening and won the first set 6-1 vs. 41-ranked Ivan Dodig of Croatia. And then the storm came. The big-serving Dodig (do they make any other kind of player in Croatia?) rained down 19 aces vs. the World No. 2, eventually winning the three-hour plus match 1-6,7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/5). Even more surprising, Rafa served for the third set. Well, that’s what happens after a long break, sometimes, especially when you play an ace machine and you’re worried about an injury. A soggy start to the summer, in more ways than one, for the Spaniard. But I’m thinking some more practice, and avoiding yet another Masters final vs. Novak Djokovic, may not be the worst thing for Rafa.
Roger Federer played and won his first match since Wimbledon, beating 155-ranked Canadian wild card Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-3. It was comforting, seeing Roger playing and winning in his summer blue shirt. Same old Roger. (And if I read another doom and gloom article about “Roger Federer at 30” I’m gonna scream!)
21-year-old Popisil has a lot of positives to take from his Roger’s cup debut: an upset over Juan Ignacilo Chela in the first round, the dream support of the home crowd and kind words from his childhood idol (via The Miami Herald):
When told Federer was impressed by his level of play, Pospisil blushed, let out a nervous giggle and stumbled on his words a little bit.
“To hear that from Roger, for me it’s incredible,” the starstruck Pospisil said. “He’s been my favorite player for eight years, so it’s someone I watched on television every week, so yeah, it’s nice to hear that.”
A bit discomforting – to his fans and himself – is Roger’s next round vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who came back from two sets down to beat him in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon this year. Roger admitted that it’s his other loss to the Frenchman – in Montreal in 2009 – that might get to him:
“I will not think about that Wimbledon match as much as I might think about the match we had here two years ago,” admitted Federer. “Both matches were, so to speak, not normal matches. One, I was up (5-1) in the third and I should have won. I never lose those. In Wimbedon I lost in five sets. Again, that doesn’t happen often to me. So these two matches were strange matches.”
Novak Djokovic had a strange one today, but he still manged to find a way to win his first match as World No. 1. But the 7-5, 6-1 win over Nikolay Davydenko wasn’t so easy. Nole was forced to fight back from a double-break, 1-4 deficit, and Davydenko served for the first set. It was nice to see Nole, of course, but I really got a kick out of watching Davydenko in his grrove. What can I say? I just enjoy watching the dull workhorse play.
“Being No. 1 is a big responsibility, not just on the court but off the court as well. Just trying to handle it in the best possible way, but on the other side trying to keep my life very simple, the way it was before.
“I haven’t changed my approach to my profession, to the sport, to my practices, to my matches. This is the way it is supposed to stay. Luckily I have a team of people that is keeping me on the ground and we are really working hard. I am motivated to make more success and to win more tournaments regardless of my ranking.”
Andy Murray, who suffered a shock, lackluster loss to Kevin Anderson on Tuesday, revealed that he has made some significant changes to his diet over the summer. Perhaps taking a cue from the now famously gluten-free Novak Djokovic, Murray’s following a similar regime. He told reporters this week that blood tests taken before this year’s Queen’s tournament (where he played some of the best tennis of his life) showed that he was having trouble digesting his carbohydrate packed, 6,000 calorie a day diet (reputedly bagels and peanut butter for breakfast and 50 pieces of sushi for dinner!) Since then, the Scot has switched to the so called “traffic-light diet,” giving carby foods a no-go and stuff like fish (sashimi, perhaps) and leafy greens a green light.Here’s Murray via Yahoo!
“As an athlete, everyone is led to believe that the best thing is pasta, pasta and more pasta but it’s not,” added Murray.
“It is about a balance and with that you become leaner and reach a stable weight. I used to drop weight every day but it’s steady right now and, because of that, it’s more effective.”
And the Scot is confident that, even if his new diet does not bear fruit (whether it be red, amber or green), he will at least know that he has done everything he can to try and get the very most out of his talent.
“It is all about finding ways of prolonging your career,” he explained. “You need to look ahead because what you do now is bound to affect the way you are in a few years’ time.
Is there not a happy balance between gorging yourself on sushi and swearing off spaghetti? The results will show, I guess. But I’d be back to pasta, pasta, pasta after a loss like the one he had on Tuesday. Ouch.
Speaking of bad losses, World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki lost in straight sets to Roberta Vinci in her first match in Toronto. She was up 5-1 in the second set, to boot. Serena Williams continues to show signs of returning to “real No. 1” status, with her 6-1, 7-6 win over Julia Goerges. Francesca Schiavone, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova also advanced.
Major ouchie: Kim Clijsters retired vs. Zheng Jie on Tuesday night with a torn stomach muscle. Clijsters told reporters on Tuesda (via Tennis.com):
“During my warm-up today before my match, I just felt my left stomach muscle really, really tight, and when I started serving it just gradually got worse,” she told reporters. “So before the match, I got taped to try and protect the muscle as much as possible so that I wouldn’t make it worse. And during my match I just felt like, yeah, it just went worse and worse. Starts with the serve and then gradually, just doing rotations with your body, upper body kind of upwards, started hurting, as well. So I already had an ultrasound here on‑site, and I have a partial tear in my left stomach muscle, a little bit of blood.”
According to her coach, Clijsters is out of Cincy and only “hopeful” to defend her title in New York.