In their first appearance since Wimbledon, top seed and three-time former champion Novak Djokovic and local favourite Milos Raonic advanced to the round of 16 in the first major stop of the U.S. hard court season leading to the final grand slam of the year in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Djokovic, who won the titles in Montreal in 2007 and 2011 and here in Toronto in the year 2012 had a difficult opener against the seasoned veteran left hander Gilles Muller of Luxembourg before prevailing 7-5, 7-6(3). The Serb broke in the eleventh game of the first and then later in the second set, failed to serve out the match at 5-4.
In the tie-break that followed, the World No.1 won the last six points after trailing 1-3. He next faces Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic who defeated the wild card Peter Polansky of Canada 7-6(5), 6-4.
Raonic whose best result was a runner up to Rafael Nadal in 2013 , made sure he would not repeat last years early loss to Feliciano Lopez as he won easily 6-3, 6-3 against Yen Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. Next up he faces the American teenager, Jared Donaldson who upset the Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Fognini was last week’s champion in Umag, Croatia on clay.
Raonic’s compatriot Vasek Pospisil was not so lucky as he went down to the Washington champion Gael Monfils in a match interrupted by rain. The Frenchman won 7-6(6), 6-0. Monfils now meets the diminutive David Goffin of Belgium who advanced after the American Sam Querrey, conqueror of Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon this year, retired with a back injury trailing 4-6, 1-2.
There were mixed results for the Americans as Jack Sock won an all American match against Donald Young, while John Isner lost to another American Ryan Harrison in a tough three-setter 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 4-6. Rajeev Ram upset the Frenchman Lucas Pouille – who had a good run at Wimbledon, 6-4, 7-6(5).
The other notable winners were Kei Nishikori of Japan, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the Australian Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dmitrov of Bulgaria. The Austrian Dominic Thiem retired trailing 1-4 to the South African Kevin Anderson, while the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic lost to fellow Croat Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 6-7(3). The 37 year old Karlovic won in Newport on grass before finishing runner up to Monfils last week at the Citi Open.
The following is the line up for the round of 16 with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Radek Stepanek
Tomas Berdych (5) v. Ryan Harrison
Milos Raonic (4) v. Jared Donaldson
David Goffin (7) v. Gael Monfils (10)
Ivo Karlovic v. Grigor Dmitrov
Kei Nishikori (3) v. Rajeev Ram
Bernard Tomic (12) v. Kevin Anderson
Stanislas Wawrinka (2) v. Jack Sock (3)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]