Novak Djokovic began the post-Olympic switch from Wimbledon grass to North American hard court on Tuesday, with the Serb top-seed admitting he is unsure how well he will compete this week at the Toronto Masters.
The world No. 2, who left the London Games without a medal, will have had a day to acclimatize before starting his title defense in the second round against Australian Bernard Tomic, after receiving a first-round bye.
The pair have played twice on the ATP, at Wimbledon and Rome, with the Serb winning both meetings.
“The transition from grass court to hard court is going to be very difficult because we have very little time, only a few days,” Djokovic said. “But we were aware of that fact at the start of the season.”
“Now we will try to do it in the most efficient, best possible way. How it’s going to go, I’m not sure. I cannot predict anything else in my opening match, but it will obviously take a little bit of time to do that,” he added.
Tomic ended a recent losing streak with his first-round win in Canada and Djokovic admitted that his opponent — also from a Balkan background — will be a tough ask as a starter.
“I’ve practiced with him many, many times, this will be our first encounter on hard court. Obviously with his style of game he prefers a bit faster surfaces and plays a lot of flat shots,” the Serb said.
“He has a lot of variety, a lot of talent in his game,” he said of the No. 49, the only teenager in the ATP top 50. “He comes up with some shots that are really unexpected, so he can be very dangerous.”
While opening-round play for non-seeds finished up, No. 11 Mardy Fish became the first into the third round as the American defeated Australian Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-0.
Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun made an early exit after he was beaten 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) by Fabio Fognini of Italy.
Washington winner Alexandr Dolgopolov returned to earth as the Ukrainian was knocked out in the first round by Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-1.
The joy of beating Tommy Haas in the Sunday final was short-lived for the Ukrainian, who stands 16th in the world after winning the second title of his career.
Stepanek performed his demolition in 65 minutes, breaking four times, for a win that earned him a second-round match with Olympic bronze medalist Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
The pair previously met twice in Brisbane on hard court and split their matches.
Canada lost a second player in as many days as Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan beat Frank Dancevic 6-3, 7-5, as the wild card went down in his fifth ATP match in a row dating to last March in Miami.
Los Angeles champion Sam Querrey of the US beat Juergen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, leaving the Austrian without a win since the Wimbledon opening round.
Marcelo Granollers of Spain defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, while Russian Mikhail Youzhny beat South African Kevin Anderson 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
Additional reporting by staff writer