8/11/11 8:33 AM | Ricky Dimon
Ivan Dodig stages an improbable comeback and sends Rafael Nadal tumbling out of Montreal on Wednesday night. Dodig advances to the third round to face Janko Tipsarevic.
Rafael Nadal's first match since the Wimbledon final was also his last match at this year's Rogers Cup.
Nadal bowed out of the Montreal tournament on Wednesday night, the victim of a hard-to-believe comeback by Ivan Dodig. A clash that seemed like it would be over in little more than an hour ended up lasting three hours and nine minutes, with Dodig prevailing 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
For a while it looked like this would be nothing other than a routine day at the office for Nadal. The Spaniard raced through the first set, breaking at 2-1 with a big forehand and again at 4-1 when Dodig double-faulted on break point. Nadal then held easily to close out the opening frame of play in style, clinching it with his second ace of the day.
Hope appeared to be lost for Dodig early in the second when he failed to take care of his serve at 1-1, a game that was delayed for a few minutes by drizzle. The fightback, though, began with Nadal serving at 3-2. Two errors by the No. 2 seed put him into a hole and Dodig soon capitalized on break point with a scorching backhand. The underdog Croat held easily the rest of the way and forced a tiebreaker.
Dodig seized an immediate mini-break for a 2-0 lead, but Nadal recovered with a running forehand pass at 1-3. Another pair of mini-breaks were exchanged moments later, with Nadal again coming from behind thanks to a successful passing shot. Dodig, however, struck decisively with a big return at 5-4 and closed out the set with a perfect serve-and-volley tactic at 6-5.
Despite the disappointment, Nadal seemed to take control of the match yet again when Dodig netted a backhand on break point to fall behind 2-0 in the third. Not about to go away having already battled back admirably in the second, Dodig once more emerged from the dead at 1-3. The world No. 41 benefited from a backhand error by his opponent at 30-30 and struck one point later with a brilliant forehand pass.
Amazingly enough, Dodig bounced back yet again from getting broken at 3-4 and used one more break of his own to stay alive. Three holds later, a decisive tiebreaker had to separate the two competitors.
Dodig opened with an immediate mini-break when his opponent netted a backhand, but he gave it right back at 2-0 with a backhand error of his own. The rest of a tense 'breaker went with serve en route to a 6-5 Dodig advantage. Serving to keep his tournament hopes alive, Nadal had to toss in a second delivery and Dodig took advantage by gaining the upper hand in the rally. It ended in brilliant fashion with Dodig crushing a cross-court backhand well out of Nadal's reach.
"He played very well, very aggressive," Nadal said of Dodig. "He didn't feel the pressure in the important moments. And at the end of the match, probably I was a little bit unlucky today."
"I keep fighting (in the) second set even when I was down 3-1," said Dodig, who blasted 19 aces. "I think I relaxed more and my serve started to work. I was getting also like more relaxed during the rallies. I was going more for the shots. Was working quite good today, especially in the important points."
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