Novak Djokovic maintains winning ways in Toronto

Published by Matt Trollope

Novak Djokovic stretches for a forehand during his first-round win over Mirza Basic at the Toronto Masters; Getty Images
Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic extends his winning streak to eight with a first-round victory in Toronto while there were encouraging victories for Stan Wawrinka and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Three weeks after lifting his fourth Wimbledon trophy, Novak Djokovic picked up where he left off with victory in the opening round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Seeded ninth, Djokovic was originally scheduled to play Hyeon Chung – who beat him at the Australian Open earlier this year – but the Korean withdrew due to back pain.

In his place stepped Bosnia’s Mirza Basic, whom Djokovic beat 6-3 7-6(3) on Tuesday.

Joining Djokovic in the second round of the Canadian Masters event were Stan Wawrinka and local youngsters Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.

Wawrinka recovered to beat 16th seed Nick Kyrgios 1-6 7-5 7-5 to win just his fourth singles match since February.

On a rain-hit day there were late wins for fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov over Fernando Verdasco, 4-6 6-2 7-6(5), and sixth seed Marin Cilic against fellow Croat Borna Coric, 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Four-time champion Djokovic followed Wawrinka onto Toronto’s Centre Court and completed a tidy victory in exactly 90 minutes.

“I’ve had plenty of success in Toronto and Montreal, and I wanted to start off well,” Djokovic told atpworldtour.com.

“I think I played a solid match. Obviously, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the new surface. The conditions here are quite different from practising in Europe or other places. So I’ll just focus on this week and see how it goes.”

RELATED: Sharapova, Kvitova through in Montreal

The victory sets up a second-round meeting with Canadian wildcard Peter Polansky, who beat Australian Matt Ebden on Monday.

Yet it was two other locals who were capturing the public’s interest on Tuesday.

Auger-Aliassime, a day before his 18th birthday and a 133rd-ranked wildcard, stunned world No.19 Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-3 to reach the second round.

Auger-Aliassime had been gaining some valuable experience at ATP level in the past few weeks, contesting three tournaments in the European summer clay-court swing and winning two matches.

Getting those matches under his belt seemed to imbue him with confidence as he stepped onto a far bigger court and a far bigger tournament against a more credentialled opponent.

“I think it’s kind of a statement for me to win these matches, to prove to myself and others that I can compete with these guys. That I have the level to be there, to compete in the Top 100,” he said.

Pouille, meanwhile, slips to a record of 7-10 since winning both his singles rubbers for France against Italy in the Davis Cup quarterfinals of early April.

After Auger-Aliassime’s exploits it was Shapovalov’s turn to shine, and the 19-year-old did just that with a commanding 6-1 6-4 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Shapovalov broke through in a big way this time last year when the ATP tournament was played in Montreal, stunning world No.1 Rafael Nadal en route to the semifinals.

This time around in Toronto, he needed just 63 minutes to dispatch Chardy and set up a second-round meeting with 14th seed Fabio Fognini, who won last week’s ATP title in Los Cabos.

Also progressing to the second round were rising stars Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, Russia’s Karen Khachanov and American Frances Tiafoe, who beat in-form Italian Marco Cecchinato 7-6(3) 6-1.

Tsitsipas’ win over Damir Dzumhur sets up a match with No.7 seed Dominic Thiem in what will be their fifth meeting of 2018.

Thiem leads the head-to-head 3-1.

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