MONTREAL – Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal competed on hard courts for the first time in five months Wednesday, with both reaching the third round of the Rogers Cup.
Second seed Murray shook off his post-Wimbledon cobwebs with a fighting 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory over Marcel Granollers.
The win — his 13th in succession — came just over a month after the Scot made history with a first British Wimbledon men’s singles title since 1936.
French Open champion Nadal, seeded fourth, showed no mercy to Canada’s Jesse Levine in a 6-2, 6-0 win as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since his shock Wimbledon opening round loss to Steve Darcis six weeks ago.
Nadal saved three break points while breaking Levine five times in 71 minutes on court. “The knee is not bothering me much,” said Nadal. “In the last couple of days, I was able to practice with no limitation, that is the most important thing.
“After seven weeks without playing tennis, you start a tournament on hard court, that is tougher for the body. You always feel a few things at the beginning. But hopefully those things will not limit my chances to play well.”
Nadal next takes on Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Canada’s Frank Dancevic 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-4.
Murray’s victory puts him in a match against colorful Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 winner over Italian 13th seed Fabio Fognini.
“I was nervous beforehand, that was a good sign,” noted Murray. “I’m pretty ready to move forward and not think too much about Wimbledon and concentrate on the U.S. Open.
“If I had lost today, it would have just broken the momentum a little bit. The more matches I can get in the next few weeks, the better.”
Murray, the reigning U.S. Open champion, had his teething troubles early against Granollers, who captured the Kitzbuhel clay court title last weekend.
Murray won the opening set in just under an hour, despite 19 unforced errors to 18 for his opponent.
Murray then fought back from 2-5 down in the second set, saving a set point in the 10th game before finally guaranteeing a tiebreaker.
Trailing 0-2 in the decider, the world No. 2 clicked into gear to run out the winner on the first of four match points as Granollers committed his final unforced error.
Murray, the champion in Montreal in 2009 and 2010, now stands 35-5 for the season.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who is ranked 71st in the world, followed up his defeat of John Isner in the first round by putting out Czech Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-4 in the second round. He was joined in the third round by compatriot and world No. 11 Milos Raonic, who produced a smooth victory over Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-4 before rain moved into the area.
Fifth seed Tomas Berdych beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 but Swiss eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka fell to his French practice partner, Benoit Paire 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).
Wawrinka was the only Swiss in the field after Roger Federer pulled out with a back injury.
In women’s action, top seeded Serena Williams easily won her opening match, beating Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-2.
Williams, coming off a victory 2½ weeks ago in the Swedish Open, set up a third-round match Thursday against 13th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. Flipkens edged Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
Earlier, Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli returned from a hamstring injury that sidelined her since her major victory, beating American qualifier Lauren Davis 6-0, 6-3.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself because the last two times I played in Toronto I lost in the first round,” said Bartoli, who is seeded seventh. “So I just wanted to enjoy myself on the court and try my hardest. Obviously being able to win 6-0, 6-3 was pretty good for me.”
Fourth-seeded Li Na of China downed Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-4, fifth-seeded Sara Errani of Italy edged Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) and Frenchwoman Alize Cornet defeated 11th-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 7-5, 7-5.
America’s Sloane Stephens also advanced to the third round, beating Germany’s Mona Barthel 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
In late matches, sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic edged Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2; Romania’s Sorana Cirstea knocked off ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 5-7, 7-6 (7-0), 6-4; and 12th-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.