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Rafa, Novak exit Toronto doubles

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Originally published on: 10/08/10 10:21

The world’s top two singles players were upended in Toronto yesterday – by two Canadian wildcard’s featuring in their first ATP World Tour tournament.

But don’t fret Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic fans, the Spanish-Serbian pair haven’t lost their singles spark. Team Nadalkovic (or Djokadal, Rafavak, Novafa, or whatever other combination takes your fancy) were beaten by Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic in the doubles competition on a drizzly opening day at the Rogers Cup.

The Canadian duo won 5-7 6-3 10-8 to defeat Nadal and Djokovic, who became the first top two players in 34 years to join forces in the team competition (after Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors in 1976).

“Doubles is an important part of the game and you can improve lots of parts of your game,” Nadal had said before the start of the tournament.

“Playing with Novak will be positive. I am excited,” he added.

Perhaps that excitement got the better of him after he and Djokovic had gained the opening set, because at 3-3 in the second, 20-year-old Pospisil and 19-year-old Raonic won the final three games of the set to level up, before racking up four match points in the deciding tiebreak.

Though the better-known doubles duo saved three of the four, the young Canadians closed out a memorable victory in an hour and 34 minutes, booking a second round clash with Wimbledon champs Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner.

Also bowing out of the doubles competition ahead of their opening singles clashes were world No.4 Andy Murray and No.5 Robin Soderling.

Murray and fellow Brit Ross Hutchins lost 6-3 6-2 to Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils, while Soderling and Jarkko Nieminen fell 6-3 7-5 to French Davis Cup pairing Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.

In the singles, the opening day of the first hard court masters tournament since Miami’s Sony Ericsson Open in March was littered with upsets.

World No.48 Sergiy Stakhovsky scored his first win since claiming his third tour title in S’Hertogenbosch in June, impressively defeating world No.7 Richard Gasquet 7-5 6-1.

Perhaps inspired after practising with Roger Federer last Friday, world No.207 Peter Polansky recorded an all the more significant upset, defeating Roland Garros semi-finalist Jurgen Melzer in straight sets.

“I came out here today really believing I could beat this guy, and that’s what I did,” said the Canadian.

“I’m just so happy the way I played… I think what I’m most proud of tonight is just how I stayed focused in front of a big crowd and at home. I just played my game throughout the match with not really too many nerves.”

Federer, meanwhile, will open his campaign for a third Rogers Cup victory against Juan Ignacio Chela after the Argentine swept past Alejandro Falla 6-0 6-3 in 67 minutes.

Federer has not lost to 30-year-old Chela in any of their four previous meetings, dropping just three games in their last hard court encounter.

Djokovic, who the Swiss could meet in the semi-finals, will open his title-challenge against Julien Benneteau after the Frenchman defeated Denis Istomin 6-4 6-4, while there were also opening round wins for Tommy Robredo, Ernests Gulbis, Nicolas Almagro and Thiemo de Bakker.

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