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Waking up to a day with the big boys


 

Originally published on: 11/08/10 11:25

There’s quite a roll call on the Rexall Centre’s Centre Court on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and the Bryan brothers all take their bows on the main stage at this year’s Rogers Cup – but not before Canadian No.1 Peter Polansky faces Victor Hanescu in the second round.

Fair enough, you might say. There are plenty of players dotted around the Toronto venue that rank in the household name department compared to the 22-year-old wildcard Polansky, ranked No.207 in the world. But he is a local lad after all – well, as local as it gets in a country the size of Canada. Plus, after posting the biggest win of his career in the first round – a 7-6(6) 6-4 victory over world No.15 Jurgen Melzer – he is entitled to a share of the limelight with the game’s big guns.

And there’s a little more to Polansky’s story than the standard issue ‘home boy on a high’ narrative.

Four years ago, while Polansky was in Mexico City for a Davis Cup match, he crashed through the window of his third-storey hotel room to escape a knife-wielding intruder and landed on some shrubbery below, which is thought to have saved his life.

But there was no intruder in Polansky’s room. He had been sleepwalking and the figure was simply a hallucination.

The Ontario native, just 18 at the time, ripped open his left calf and almost severed a major artery in the fall, leaving doctors to consider the harrowing prospect of amputating the leg. Eventually they saved the limb after five hours of surgery and 400 stitches to fix the damage.

Even then, the medical team couldn’t be sure if Polansky would walk again, let alone play tennis. Miraculously, just three months later he was back out on court.

Since then, Polansky has never had another sleepwalking incident – though he does book low-storey hotel rooms as a matter of course now. He has racked up five Futures titles and been as high as No.164 in the world, with the biggest win of his career coming against world No.100 Nicolas Massu last summer.

Until Monday night, that is. So if you’re after a feel-good story on another cloudy August day in Blighty, look out for the fortunes of Canada’s finest this afternoon.

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