Rafa Nadal fluffed his lines on his return from a five-week break when the Spanish world No. 2 was stunned 1-6, 7-6, 7-6 by unheralded Croatian Ivan Dodig in his opening match at the Rogers Cup on Wednesday.
Back in action for the first time since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on July 3, Nadal had looked poised for a routine comeback victory after storming through the opening set of the second-round encounter.
However, the 41st ranked Croatian had other ideas and would not be bullied by the muscular Mallorcan, matching Nadal shot-for-shot, before ending the three-hour thriller with a backhand cross-court winner.
Despite an inconsistent performance, Nadal had his chances to seal the contest when he led 5-3 in the deciding set and served for the match, but the two-time champion on Canadian hard courts was unable to put away his stubborn opponent.
It was Nadal’s first opening match defeat in a tournament since Rome 2008.
The loss will be a blow to Nadal’s Flushing Meadows preparation, where the Spaniard will launch the defense his US Open crown later this month.
The late-night shock provided an unexpected twist to the end of a day that had gone largely according to script, with 10 of the 13 seeds in action enjoying a safe passage into the third round.
Djokovic’s reign as world No. 1 got off to a sluggish start as the Serb scrambled to a 7-5, 6-1 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko, while Roger Federer entered his 30s with a clinical 7-5, 6-3 victory over Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
In near invincible form this season on his way to eight titles while compiling a 49-1 record, Djokovic looked vulnerable after his extended holiday as Davydenko claimed two early breaks to race to a 4-1 lead.
Playing his first competitive match since celebrating his 30th birthday on Monday, Federer looked as fresh as ever as he strolled onto center court impeccably attired in a blue shirt and headband.
It was business as usual for the Swiss maestro once the match started, the former No. 1 beginning his tune-up for the US Open with a gentle workout.
Back in rhythm, Federer quickly put his stamp on the match, breaking his opponent at the first opportunity in the second game on the way to a straightforward victory over the 155th-ranked wildcard.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki lost the last six straight games to Roberta Vinci in a 6-4, 7-5 upset defeat in the second round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday.
The world No. 1-ranked Wozniacki, who has won a WTA-leading five titles this year, was leading 5-1 in the second set and looking to rally from a set down, but the No. 22-ranked Vinci finished her off with three straight breaks of serve.
In other matches, former No. 1 Serena Williams and fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova both advanced.