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Djokovic Overcomes Monfils In Toronto Opener

Toronto, Canada

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic denied Gael Monfils' upset bid in Toronto on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic survived an offensive onslaught from rival Gael Monfils in the second round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday, prevailing 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) in two hours and 41 minutes.

Competing in his first match since claiming a second Wimbledon crown last month, the top seed was pushed to the brink in his bid for a fourth title in Canada (2007, '11-12). After snatching the second set in a tie-break, Monfils surged ahead with an early break in the decider for a 3-1 lead. Djokovic would break right back, however, and had three additional break points in the 11th game, all of which were denied. Monfils found himself two points from completing the upset at 6-5 30/30, but Djokovic reeled off nine of the next 11 points for the pulsating victory.

Djokovic, who fired 36 winners and saved six of seven break points, is seeking to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the only players to win 20 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. The World No. 1 extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage over Monfils to 10-0 in their first meeting since a quarter-final affair at the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

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"In a way it was fun, of course, and entertaining to be part of this match," said Djokovic. "I enjoyed it. I tried to take the positives from this long match, and those are obviously the fact that I stayed over two-and-a-half hours on the court and I have not played an official hard court match since the Miami final. That helps obviously to play a little bit more, to feel the court, to feel the conditions."

Monfils was bidding to hand Djokovc his earliest defeat on hard courts since the 2012 BNP Paribas Masters (l. to Querrey). The Serb advances to face another French rival, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the third round.

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No. 13 seed Tsonga dispatched countryman Jeremy Chardy 7-6(6), 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. The 29 year old, a two-time Rogers Cup semi-finalist (2009, '11) improved to 25-13 on the year.

"My next opponent has a very similar game, power game like Gael's," said Djokovic, who defeated Tsonga in the Round of 16 at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year. "I'm not feeling tired, I'm not exhausted, I haven't played a tournament for four weeks. I of course look forward to compete more."

A pair of Croatians prevailed in a third set tie-break Wednesday. Marin Cilic, the No. 15 seed, took two hours to defeat Tunisian lucky loser Malek Jaziri 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(4). Ivan Dodig, who had ousted top American John Isner in the first round, edged Italian Andreas Seppi 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).

Cilic will next confront No. 2 seed Roger Federer, whom he has lost to in their four previous meetings, while Dodig will take an 0-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his match against No. 5 seed David Ferrer. The Spaniard opened his campaign by defeating American Michael Russell 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

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