Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal competed on hard courts for the first time in five months on Wednesday, with both reaching the third round of the Montreal Masters.
Second seed Murray shook off his post-Wimbledon cobwebs with a fighting 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) victory over Marcel Granollers.
The win — his 13th in succession — came just over a month after the Scot made history with the first British Wimbledon men’s singles title since 1936.
French Open champion Nadal, seeded fourth, showed no mercy to Canada’s Jesse Levine in a 6-2, 6-0 win as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since his shock Wimbledon opening round loss to Steve Darcis six weeks ago.
Nadal saved three break points while breaking Levine five times in 71 minutes on court.
“The knee is not bothering me much,” Nadal said. “In the last couple of days, I was able to practice with no limitation, that is the most important thing.”
“After seven weeks without playing tennis, you start a tournament on hard court, that is tougher for the body,” he said. “You always feel a few things at the beginning, but hopefully those things will not limit my chances to play well.”
Nadal takes on Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Canada’s Frank Dancevic 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-4.
Murray’s victory puts him in a match against Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 winner over Italian 13th seed Fabio Fognini.
“I was nervous beforehand, that was a good sign. I’m pretty ready to move forward and not think too much about Wimbledon and concentrate on the US Open,” Murray said.
“If I’d lost today, it would have just broken the momentum a little bit. The more matches I can get in the next few weeks, the better,” he said.
Murray, the reigning US Open champion, had his teething troubles early against Granollers, who won the Kitzbuhel clay court title last weekend.
Murray won the opening set in just under an hour, despite 19 unforced errors to 18 for his opponent.
Murray then fought back from 2-5 down in the second set, saving a set point in the 10th game before finally guaranteeing a tiebreaker.
Trailing 0-2 in the decider, the world No. 2 clicked into gear to run out the winner on the first of four match points as Granollers committed his final unforced error.
Murray, the champion in Canada in 2009 and 2010, now stands 35-5 for the season.
In a rain-interrupted match, third seed David Ferrer lost to Alex Bogomolov 2-6-, 4-6 while sixth seed and weekend Washington champion Juan Martin del Potro struggled before finally overcoming Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
The Argentine came from two breaks down in the final set to rescue the match and reach the third round.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who is ranked 71st in the world, followed up his defeat of John Isner in the first round by routing Czech Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-4 in the second round. He was joined in the third round by compatriot and world No. 11 Milos Raonic, who produced a smooth victory over Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-4.
Fifth seed Tomas Berdych beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-4, but Swiss eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka fell to his French practice partner Benoit Paire 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).
Wawrinka was the only Swiss in the field after Roger Federer pulled out with a back injury.
Serena Williams, who captured the Rogers Cup in 2001 and 2011, easily won her opening match this year by beating former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone in straight sets on Wednesday. The top seeded Williams eliminated Italy’s Schiavone 6-3, 6-2 in the WTA Tour’s US$2.4 million hardcourt tournament.
“She’s a Grand Slam champion so I had to really focus,” said Williams, who was the runner-up in Toronto in 2000. “I made a few errors, but it’s my first match on hard [courts] in a really long time.”
Williams next faces No.13 seed Kirsten Flipkens, who beat Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
Flipkens ousted Venus Williams in the first round earlier this week, but this will be the first career match between her and Serena Williams.
Last year’s runner-up Li Na, of China, Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova also won their Toronto openers in straight sets.
Serena Williams blasted five aces and won 68 percent of her first-serve points against the Italian.
The error-prone Schiavone hit nine double faults and won just 25 percent of her second-serve points.
Williams said she is confident going forward in the tournament.
“It took me a few games to adjust to her game. Now I feel like I’m completely adjusted, and I feel good going into the next round,” Williams said.
Fourth-seeded Li stormed to a 6-1, 6-4 win against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while seventh seed Bartoli, who won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last month, took the first seven games of her match with Lauren Davis of the US in a 6-0, 6-3 victory.
Bartoli said she was surprised how smoothly she rediscovered her game after her Wimbledon triumph.
“I hadn’t played on hard courts for a while, and also the last two times I played in Toronto I lost in the first round,” Bartoli said. “So I just wanted to enjoy myself on the court and try my hardest, and being able to win 6-0, 6-3 was obviously pretty good for me.”
“I think I played well, and I’m very pleased with the way I handled everything on the court today,” she said.
Bartoli had been scheduled to make her post-Wimbledon return in California last week, but had to pull out with a hamstring injury.
“My hamstring is getting better and better,” she said on Wednesday. “I just need to take care of it every day. I was able to work with my physio back home and do some rehabilitation and strength work on it so it gets stronger.”
“The summer season is a grueling season — you have to be really fit and ready — so I’m working on it on a daily basis to make sure I’m getting stronger and stronger,” Bartoli said.
Romania’s Sorana Cirstea pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the event so far by beating world No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.
Cirstea rallied from an opening-set loss to win 5-7, 7-6 (7/0), 6-4 outlasting Denmark’s Wozniacki in a marathon match that finished just four minutes shy of three hours.
Czech star Kvitova downed crowd favorite Eugenie Bouchard, of Canada, 6-3, 6-2 in the night match.
Australian Samantha Stosur, who was the runner-up here two years ago and last week’s titlist in Carlsbad, beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-4. Ivanovic was the Toronto winner seven years ago.
In the first round of the women’s doubles, Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia defeated Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 10-2.
In a second-round match, fourth seeded US duo Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears beat Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Eva Hrdinova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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