Nadal tumbles out of Montreal
Rafa Nadal fluffed his lines on the return from a five-week break when the Spanish world number two was stunned 1-6 7-6 7-6 by unheralded Croatian Ivan Dodig in his opening match of the Montreal Masters.
Back in action for the first time since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on July 3, Nadal had looked poised for a routine comeback victory after storming through the opening set of the second round encounter.
However, the 41st ranked Croatian had other ideas and would not be bullied by the muscular Mallorcan, matching Nadal shot-for-shot before ending the three-hour thriller with a backhand cross-court winner.
Despite an inconsistent performance, Nadal had his chances to seal the contest when he led 5-3 in the deciding set and served for the match, but the two-time champion on Canadian hard courts was unable to put away his stubborn opponent.
It was Nadal's first opening match defeat in a tournament since Rome 2008.
The loss will be a blow to Nadal's Flushing Meadows preparation, where the Spaniard will launch the defence his US Open crown later this month.
"I don't feel I played bad but in the decisive moments I didn't play well," Nadal said.
"He didn't feel the pressure in the important moments and at the end of the match, probably I was a little bit unlucky.
"I felt like I played well enough to win but that's tennis."
The late night shock, provided an unexpected twist to the end of a day that had gone largely according to script, with 10 of the 13 seeds in action enjoying a safe passage into the third round.
Djokovic's reign as world number one got off to a sluggish start as the Serb scrambled to a 7-5 6-1 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko, while Roger Federer entered his 30s with a clinical 7-5 6-3 victory over Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
In near invincible form this season on his way to eight titles while compiling a 49-1 record, Djokovic looked vulnerable after his extended holiday as Davydenko claimed two early breaks to race to a 4-1 lead.
But the Russian could only win two more games as Djokovic shifted into top gear, reeling off six straight service breaks to turn the match around before sealing victory as lightning crackled around the stadium.
"I'm just trying to handle it (being number one) the best possible way but on the other side trying to keep my life very simple, the way it was before," Djokovic said.
"Of course, the world is looking at me a bit differently."