Canadian Pospisil dominates Stepanek to reach Rogers Cup third round
Published Wednesday, August 7, 2013 1:58PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:41PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Canada's Milos Raonic had his big serve booming and Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal made successful returns to the court Wednesday at the men's Rogers Cup.
Drawing on enthusiastic home country support, the 11th-seeded Raonic downed Mikhail Youzny 6-4, 6-4 in a match briefly interrupted by rain to advance to the third round of the US$3.49-million hardcourt event.
It marks the first time since the French Open that the Thornhill, Ont., product has put together back-to-back wins. Raonic began the year with a 17-6 record, including a tournament win in San Jose, but his win over Youzny left him at 7-7 since May.
Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., posted a 6-2, 6-4 second-round victory over Radek Stepanek to put two Canadians into the round of 16 at Canada's biggest tournament.
But Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., Vancouver's Filip Peliwo and Ottawa's Jesse Levine all lost their second round matches.
Murray, in his first action since his stirring victory at Wimbledon in June, shook off some rust and battled a swirling wind to down Marcel Granollers 6-4, 7-6 (2) on centre court.
Murray won his 13th straight match, including his victories at London and Wimbledon, where be became the first men's champion from Britain in 77 years.
On Thursday, Murray will face Ernests Gulbis, who beat Fabio Fognini 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. Murray is 5-0 against Gulbis in his career.
"I was pretty nervous beforehand -- that was a good sign," said Murray. "I'm pretty ready to move forward and not think too much about Wimbledon and concentrate on the U.S. Open.
"I think in some ways, it's nice. I'll probably never feel that same pressure again. That's why I was nervous today. That's why I'm really happy. It wasn't my best tennis, but the nerves were there and that's a good sign."
A two-time Rogers Cup champion, Nadal was also back on court for the first time since Wimbledon, where he lost in the first round. The Spaniard, who arrived a week early to work on his hardcourt game, made short work of Levine in a 6-2, 6-0 win.
"Pleased about the victory, first thing," said Nadal, who is seeded fourth. "After seven weeks without playing a match, starting in a very tough tournament on a fast court, to be through to the third round is good."
Levine made nine double faults, which he put down to soreness in his elbow that he hopes will be cleared up before the U.S. Open at the end of August.
"He really doesn't let you go," Levine said of Nadal, who has won both of their meetings. "Once he gets you under wrap, you're in trouble. It's tough."
Peliwo fell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Denis Istomin. The 2012 Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior champion had posted his first Rogers Cup win in the first round over Jarkko Nieminen.
He was disappointed to lose, but was heartened to be able to compete with top ATP Tour players.
"To be able to keep up with these guys, have chances to beat them, it's a great feeling," said Peliwo. "There's definitely a lot of confidence, a lot of positives to take from these matches.
"It's something to build on for the weeks and the months to come."
Pospisil's next match will be a first meeting with fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who ousted Alexander Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-4.
Pospisil's No. 71 ranking will rise from this week's performance after reaching the third round of a Masters series tournament for the first time.
"Everything is going very well for me, indeed," the 23-year-old said. "But this is thanks to the hard work I've been doing.
"It is paying off right now. Everything is falling into place. The goal I had set for myself for the end of this year was, at best, to be top 50. But later, because I had been sick (a bout of mono early in the year), I thought I could try for top-70."
Pospisil looked to be cruising when he took a 5-2 second-set lead with his fifth service break of the match but then lost on his own serve.
He made no mistakes on his next service game, taking all four points.
Pospisil, still heavy in the legs from a victory in a Challenger series event in Vancouver on Sunday followed by an overnight flight to Montreal, scored his first win over a top-20 opponent Tuesday when he ousted John Isner.
"My match against John maybe rates higher in terms of the moment itself, but this is the first time I ever reached the third round here, or at a Masters or anything like that," he said.
"Just knowing that I'm improving, going in the right direction with my game gives me confidence. Things are very clear for me at the moment, so I'll just keep working in that direction and see where that will take me."
Pospisil was among a record five Canadians to reach the second round.
Elsewhere, qualifier Marinko Matosevic caught a break when his 10th-seeded opponent Tommy Haas retired during the first set with a shoulder injury. Matosevic will play Benoit Paire, who ousted eighth-seeded Stanislas Wawinka 6-2, 7-6 (2).