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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic kicked off his bid for a fourth Canadian crown with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) second-round win over a stubborn Thomaz Bellucci at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.

Bellucci, with just one win in five visits to Canada and coming off a first-round loss at Washington, appeared to be the perfect opponent for Djokovic to launch his buildup to the U.S. Open but provided a stiff test for the Serb.

“Match could have gone either way, honestly, especially in the second set,” Djokovic told reporters after battling Bellucci for an hour and 50 minutes. “But we both had our chances to break. We got to the tiebreak, which I thought was fair, then it was anybody’s game.

“It’s the first hard-court match for me from Miami earlier this year in March. It takes a little bit of time to get into the rhythm, get into the groove.”

Serena beats Pennetta

AP

Top-ranked Serena Williams rebounded to beat Italy’s Flavia Pennetta 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 on Tuesday in the second round of the WTA Tour’s Rogers Cup.

“I was really frustrated with how I was playing,” Williams said. “And then I got really angry. . . . So I said, ‘Serena, you’re going to have to be positive and be good to yourself out here.’ “

The 21-time Grand Slam winner won a day after sister Venus Williams was eliminated in straight sets by Germany’s Sabine Lisicki.

The 33-year-old Serena Williams blamed unforced errors for her early struggles.

“It was a good opportunity for me because I haven’t played a match on hard courts since April-ish, early, early April, after Miami,” Williams said. “It was a long time ago. So I think it was really good for me to have that match play.”

Williams won the first of her three Toronto titles in 2001.

“Like a nice vintage wine, Williams said. “A good vintage red wine, I’d say, getting better with age, I hope.”

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